Skip to main content

Full text of "The wilderness hunter .."

See other formats


^^ 


r  « 


I  • 

<P^,       "^  O  II  «  *^ 


"'         ^f^        <^^  *  Oil®  •  ^       1^^         " 


0 


"  ,^ 


*       < 


0  "    * 


a:^ 


^•'•% 


V   '   « 


# 
i*    ,♦ 


iO  'o,   ♦*77r»     A  <,     '=.7*     .» 


A 


\-    o°^^^v•\    /\.i.;^/\    oo^^^.^°v 


The  Death  of  the  Grizzly. 

(From  the  Drawing  by  A.  B.  Frost.) 


NEW  LIBRARY  EDITION 


THE 


iX 


WILDERNESS   HUNTER 


Sketches  of  Sport  on  the  Northern  Cattle  Plains 


BY 

THEODORE  ROOSEVELT 


TWO  VOLUMES  IN  ONE 
PART  I 


G.  P.  PUTNAM'S  SONS 

NEW    YORK    AND    LONDON 

Jlbc  fcnicfterbocl^er  pcese 


•7f75~ 


Copyright,  1893 

by 

G.  P.  PUTNAM'S  SONS 


3  «:r  ^  '\  "t  H 


TO 

E-  K    R. 


"They  saw  the  silences 
Move  by  and  beckon;  saw  the  forms, 
The  very  beards,  of  burly  storms, 
And  heard  them  talk  like  sounding  seas     .     . 
They  saw  the  snowy  mountains  rolled 
And  heaved  along  the  nameless  lands 
Like  mighty  billows;  saw  the  gold 
Of  awful  sunsets ;  saw  the  blush 
Of  sudden  dawn,  and  felt  the  hush 
Of  heaven  when  the  day  sat  down 
And  hid  his  face  in  dusky  hands." 

Joaquin  Miller. 


"In  vain  the  speeding  or  shyness; 
In  vain  the  elk  takes  to  the  inner  passes  of  the  woods    .    .    . 

.     where  geese  nip  their  food  with  short  jerks, 
Where  sundown  shadows  lengthen  over  the  limitless  prairie, 
Where  herds  of  buffalo  make  a  crawling  spread  of  the  square 

miles,  far  and  near. 
Where  winter  wolves  bark  amid  wastes  of  snow  and  ice-clad 

trees     .     .     . 
The  moose,  large  as  an  ox,  cornered  by  himters,  plunging 

with  his  forefeet,  the  hoofs  as  sharp  as  knives     .     . 
The  blazing  fire  at  night,  the  sweet  taste  of  supper,  the  talk, 
the  bed  of  hemlock  boughs,  and  the  bear-skin." 

Walt  Whitman. 


PREFACE 

FOR  a  number  of  years  much  of  my  life  was 
spent  either  in  the  wilderness  or  on  the 
borders  of  the  settled  country — if,  indeed, 
*' settled"  is  a  term  that  can  rightly  be  applied  to 
the  vast,  scantily  peopled  regions  where  cattle- 
ranching  is  the  only  regular  industry.  During 
this  time  I  hunted  much,  among  the  mountains 
and  on  the  plains,  both  as  a  pastime  and  to  pro- 
cure hides,  meat,  and  robes  for  use  on  the  ranch ; 
and  it  was  my  good  luck  to  kill  all  the  various 
kinds  of  large  game  that  can  properly  be  consid- 
ered to  belong  to  temperate  North  America. 

In  hunting,  the  finding  and  killing  of  the  game 
is  after  all  but  a  part  of  the  whole.  The  free,  self- 
reliant,  adventurous  life,  with  its  rugged  and  stal- 
wart democracy ;  the  wild  surroundings,  the  grand 
beauty  of  the  scenery,  the  chance  to  study  the 
ways  and  habits  of  the  woodland  creatures — all 
these  unite  to  give  to  the  career  of  the  wilderness 
hunter  its  peculiar  charm.  The  chase  is  among 
the  best  of  all  national  pastimes ;  it  cultivates  that 
vigorous  manliness  for  the  lack  of  which  in  a  na- 
tion, as  in  an  individual,  the  possession  of  no  other 
qualities  can  possibly  atone. 

VOL.  I .  vii 


viii  Preface 

No  one  but  he  who  has  partaken  thereof  can 
understand  the  keen  deHght  of  hunting  in  lonely 
lands.  For  him  is  the  joy  of  the  horse  well  ridden 
and  the  rifle  well  held;  for  him  the  long  days  of 
toil  and  hardship,  resolutely  endured,  and  crowned 
at  the  end  with  triumph.  In  after  years  there 
shall  come  forever  to  his  mind  the  memory  of  end- 
less prairies  shimmering  in  the  bright  sun ;  of  vast 
snow-clad  wastes  lying  desolate  under  gray  skies ; 
of  the  melancholy  marshes ;  of  the  rush  of  mighty 
rivers;  of  the  breath  of  the  evergreen  forest  in 
summer ;  of  the  crooning  of  ice-armored  pines  at 
the  touch  of  the  winds  of  winter ;  of  cataracts  roar- 
ing between  hoary  mountain  masses;  of  all  the 
innumerable  sights  and  sounds  of  the  wilderness ; 
of  its  immensity  and  mystery ;  and  of  the  silences 
that  brood  in  its  still  depths. 


Sagamore  Hill, 

June,  1893. 


CONTENTS 


CHAPTER  I 

THE    AMERICAN     WILDERNESS;        WILDERNESS     HUNTERS    AND 
WILDERNESS    GAME 

The  American  wilderness — Forests,  plains,  mountains — 
Likeness  and  unlikeness  to  the  Old- World  wilderness — Wil- 
derness hunters — Boone,  Crockett,  Houston,  Carson — The 
trappers — The  buffalo  hunters — The  stockmen — The  regular 
army — Wilderness  game — Bison,  moose,  elk,  caribou,  deer, 
antelope — Other  game — Hunting  in  the  wilderness.  . . .   1-23 

CHAPTER  II 

HUNTING  FROM  THE  RANCH)  THE  BLACKTAIL  DEER 

In  the  cattle  country — Life  on  a  ranch — A  round-up — 
Branding  a  maverick — The  Bad  Lands — ^A  shot  at  a  blacktail 
— Still-hunting  the  blacktail — Its  habits — Killing  a  buck  in 
August — A  shot  at  close  range — Occasional  unwariness  of 
blacktail 24-43 

CHAPTER  III 

THE  WHITETAIL  DEER;    AND  THE  BLACKTAIL  OF  THE  COLUMBIA 

The  whitetail — Yields  poor  sport — Fire  hunting — Hunting 
with  hounds — Shooting  at  running  game — Queer  adventure — 
Anecdotes  of  plainsmen — Good  and  bad  shots — A  wagon-trip 
— A  shot  from  the  ranch-house  verandah — The  Columbian 
blacktail 44-64 

VOL.  I. 

IX 


X  Contents 

CHAPTER  IV 

ON  THE  CATTLE  RANGES;  THE  PRONGHORN  ANTELOPE 

Riding  to  the  round-up — The  open  plains — Sights  and 
sounds — Gophers,  prairie  dogs,  sharp-tail  grouse,  antelope — 
The  cow-camp — Standing  night  guard — Dawn — Make  an  an- 
telope hunt — An  easy  stalk — A  difficult  stalk — Three  antelope 
shot — The  plains  skylark — The  meadow  lark — The  mocking- 
bird— Other  singers — Harsher  wilderness  sounds — Pack-rats 
— Plains  ferret,  its  ferocity — The  war  eagle — Attacks  antelope 
— Kills  jack-rabbit — One  shot  on  wing  with  rifle 65-86 

CHAPTER  V 

HUNTING    THE    PRONGBUCK;     FROST,  FIRE,    AND    THIRST 

Hunting  the  prongbuck — Long  shots — Misses — Winter 
weather — A  hiuit  in  December — Riding  in  the  bitter  cold — 
The  old  hunter's  tepee — A  night  in  a  line  camp — An  antelope 
herd — Two  bucks  shot — Riding  back  to  ranch — The  immi- 
grant train — Hunting  in  fall — Fighting  fire — A  summer  hunt 
— Sufferings  from  thirst — Swimming  cattle  across  a  swollen 
stream — Wagon-trip  to  the  Black  Hills — The  great  prairies — 
A  prongbuck  shot — Pleasant  camp — Buck  shot  in  morning 
— Continue  our  journey — Shooting  sage-fowl  and  prairie-fowl 
with  rifle 87-1 1 7 

CHAPTER  VI 

AMONG  THE   HIGH   HILLS;     THE   BIGHORN   OR  MOUNTAIN   SHEEP 

A  summer  on  the  ranch — Working  among  the  cattle — Kill- 
ing game  for  the  ranch — A  trip  after  mountain  sheep — The 
Bad  Lands — Solitary  camp — The  old  horse  Manitou — Still- 
hunt  at  dawn — Young  ram  shot — A  hunt  in  the  Rocky 
Mountains — An  old  bighorn  stalked  and  shot — Habits  of  the 
game 1 18-130 


Contents  xi 

CHAPTER  VII 

MOUNTAIN    game;     THE    WHITE-GOAT 

A  trip  to  the  Bighole  Basin — Incidents  of  travel  with  a 
wagon — Camp  among  the  moiintains — -A  trip  on  foot  after 
goats — Spruce  grouse — Lying  out  at  night — A  cHmb  over  the 
high  peaks — Two  goats  shot — Weary  tramp  back — A  hunt  in 
the  Kootenai  coumtry — Hard  cHmbing  among  the  wooded 
mountains — Goat  shot  on  brink  of  chasm — Ptarmigan  for 
supper — Goat  hunting  very  hard  work — Ways  and  habits  of 
the  goats — Not  much  decrease  in  numbers. . , 1 31-154 

CHAPTER  VIII 

HUNTING    IN    THE    SELKIRKS;     THE    CARIBOU 

A  camp  on  Kootenai  Lake — Travelling  on  foot  through  the 
dense  forests — Excessive  toil — Water-shrew  and  water- thrush 
- — Black  bear  killed — Mountain  climbing — Woodchucks  and 
conies — The  Indian  Animal — Night  sounds — A  long  walk — 
A  caribou  killed — A  midwinter  trip  on  snow-shoes  in  Maine — 
Footprints  on  the  snow — ^A  helpless  deer — Caribou' at  ease  in 
the  deep  drifts 155-183 

CHAPTER  IX 

THE    WAPITI    OR    ROUND-HORNED    ELK 

A  hunt  in  the  Bitter  Root  Mountains — A  trip  on  foot — Two 
bull  elk  fighting — The  peace-maker — All  three  shot — Habits 
of  the  wapiti — Their  bungling — A  grand  chorus—  Shooting  a 
bull  at  sunrise — Another  killed  near  the  ranch — Vanishing  of 
the  elk — Its  antlers — The  lynx — Porcupine — Chickarees  and 
chipmunks — Clarke's  crow — Lewis's  woodpecker — Whisky- 
iack — Trout — The  Yellowstone  canyon 184-208 


xii  Contents 

CHAPTER  X 

AN    ELK-HUNT    AT    TWO-OCEAN    PASS 

In  the  Shoshones — Travelling  with  a  pack-train — Scenery 
— Flowers — A  squaw-man — Bull  elk  shot  in  rain  while  chal- 
lenging— Storm — Breaking  camp  in  rain — Two- Ocean  Pass — 
Our  camp  —  A  young  ten-pointer  shot  —  The  mountains  in 
moonlight  —  Blue  grouse  —  Snow-shoe  rabbits  —  Death  of  a 
master  bull — The  Tetons — Following  a  bull  by  scent — 111 
luck — Luck  changes — Death  of  spike  bull — Three  bulls  killed 
— Travelling  home — Heavy  snowstorm — Bucking  horse — 
Various  hunts  compared — Number  cartridges  used — Still- 
himting  the  elk 209-239 

CHAPTER  XI 

THE  moose;  THE  BEAST  OF  THE  WOODLAND 

The  moose  of  the  Rocky  Mountains — Its  habits — Difficult 
nature  of  its  haunts — Repeated  failures  while  hunting  it — 
Watching  a  marsh  at  dawn — A  moose  in  the  reeds — Stalking 
and  shooting  him — Travelling  light  with  a  pack-train — A 
beaver  meadow — Shooting  a  big  bull  at  dawn — The  moose  in 
summer,  in  winter — Young  moose — Pugnacity  of  moose — 
Still-hunting  moose — Rather  more  easy  to  kill  than  whitetail 
deer — At  times  a  dangerous  antagonist — The  winter  yards — 
Hunting  on  snow-shoes — A  narrow  escape — A  fatal  en- 
counter     240-2 7 1 


THE 

WILDERNESS  HUNTER 


THE  WILDERNESS 
HUNTER 


CHAPTER  I 

THE  AMERICAN  WILDERNESS;  WILDERNESS 
HUNTERS  AND  WILDERNESS  GAME 


M 


ANIFOLD  are  the  shapes  taken  by  the 
American  wilderness.  In  the  east,  from 
the  Atlantic  coast  to  the  Mississippi  val- 
ley, lies  a  land  of  magnificent  hardwood  forest.  In 
endless  variety  and  beauty,  the  trees  cover  the 
ground,  save  only  where  they  have  been  cleared 
away  by  man,  or  where  towards  the  west  the  ex- 
panse of  the  forest  is  broken  by  fertile  prairies. 
Towards  the  north,  this  region  of  hardwood  trees 
merges  insensibly  into  the  southern  extension  of 
the  great  subarctic  forest;  here  the  silver  stems 
of  birches  gleam  against  the  sombre  background 
of  coniferous  evergreens.  In  the  southeast  again, 
by  the  hot,  oozy  coasts  of  the  South  Atlantic  and 
the  Gulf,  the  forest  becomes  semi-tropical ;  palms 
wave  their  feathery  fronds,  and  the  tepid  swamps 
teem  with  reptile  life. 


VOL.  I. — I. 


2  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

Some  distance  beyond  the  Mississippi,  stretch- 
ing from  Texas  to  North  Dakota,  and  westward  to 
the  Rocky  Mountains,  lies  the  plains  country. 
This  is  a  region  of  light  rainfall,  where  the  ground 
is  clad  with  short  grass,  while  cottonwood  trees 
fringe  the  courses  of  the  winding  plains  streams; 
streams  that  are  alternately  turbid  torrents  and 
mere  dwindling  threads  of  water.  The  great 
stretches  of  natural  pasture  are  broken  by  gray 
sage-brush  plains  and  tracts  of  strangely  shaped 
and  colored  Bad  Lands;  sun-scorched  wastes  in 
summer,  and  in  winter  arctic  in  their  iron  desola- 
tion. Beyond  the  plains  rise  the  Rocky  Moun- 
tains, their  flanks  covered  with  coniferous  woods ; 
but  the  trees  are  small,  and  do  not  ordinarily  grow 
very  closely  together.  Towards  the  north  the 
forest  becomes  denser,  and  the  peaks  higher ;  and 
glaciers  creep  down  towards  the  valleys  from  the 
fields  of  everlasting  snow.  The  brooks  are  brawl- 
ing, trout-filled  torrents;  the  swift  rivers  foam 
over  rapid  and  cataract,  on  their  way  to  one  or  the 
other  of  the  two  great  oceans. 

Southwest  of  the  Rockies  evil  and  terrible  des- 
erts stretch  for  leagues  and  leagues,  mere  waterless 
wastes  of  sandy  plain  and  barren  mountain, 
broken  here  and  there  by  narrow  strips  of  fertile 
ground.  Rain  rarely  falls,  and  there  are  no 
clouds  to  dim  the  brazen  sun.  The  rivers  run  in 
deep  canyons,  or  are  swallowed  by  the  burning 


The  American  Wilderness  3 

sand;  the  smaller  watercourses  are  dry  through- 
out the  greater  part  of  the  year. 

Beyond  this  desert  region  rise  the  sunny  Sierras 
of  California,  with  their  flower-clad  slopes  and 
groves  of  giant  trees;  and  north  of  them,  along 
the  coast,  the  rain-shrouded  mountain  chains  of 
Oregon  and  Washington,  matted  with  the  tower- 
ing growth  of  the  mighty  evergreen  forest. 

The  white  hunters,  who  from  time  to  time  first 
penetrated  the  different  parts  of  this  wilderness, 
found  themselves  in  such  hunting-grounds  as 
those  wherein,  long  ages  before,  their  Old- World 
forefathers  had  dwelt ;  and  the  game  they  chased 
was  much  the  same  as  that  their  lusty  barbarian 
ancestors  followed,  with  weapons  of  bronze  and 
of  iron,  in  the  dim  years  before  history  dawned. 
As  late  as  the  end  of  the  seventeenth  century  the 
turbulent  village  nobles  of  Lithuania  and  Livonia 
hunted  the  bear,  the  bison,  the  elk,  the  wolf,  and 
the  stag,  and  hung  the  spoils  in  their  smoky 
wooden  palaces ;  and  so,  two  hundred  years  later, 
the  free  hunters  of  Montana,  in  the  interludes  be- 
tween hazardous  mining  quests  and  bloody  In- 
dian campaigns,  hunted  game  almost  or  quite  the 
same  in  kind,  through  the  cold  mountain  forests 
surrounding  the  Yellowstone  and  Flathead  lakes, 
and  decked  their  log  cabins  and  ranch-houses  with 
the  hides  and  horns  of  the  slaughtered  beasts. 

Zoologically    speaking,    the    north    temperate 


4  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

zones  of  the  Old  and  New  Worlds  are  very  similar, 
differing  from  one  another  much  less  than  they  do 
from  the  various  regions  south  of  them,  or  than 
these  regions  differ  among  themselves.  The  un- 
trodden American  wilderness  resembles,  both  in 
game  and  physical  character,  the  forests,  the  moun- 
tains, and  the  steppes  of  the  Old  World  as  it  was 
at  the  beginning  of  our  era.  Great  woods  of  pine 
and  fir,  birch  and  beech,  oak  and  chestnut ;  streams 
where  the  chief  game  fish  are  spotted  trout  and 
silvery  salmon;  grouse  of  various  kinds  as  the 
most  common  game  birds, — all  these  the  hunter 
finds  as  characteristic  of  the  New  World  as  of  the 
Old.  So  it  is  with  most  of  the  beasts  of  the  chase, 
and  so  also  with  the  fur-bearing  animals  that  fur- 
nish to  the  trapper  alike  his  life-work  and  his  means 
of  livelihood.  The  bear,  wolf,  bison,  moose,  cari- 
bou, wapiti,  deer,  and  bighorn,  the  lynx,  fox, 
wolverine,  sable,  mink,  ermine,  beaver,  badger, 
and  otter  of  both  worlds  are  either  identical  or 
more  or  less  closely  kin  to  one  another.  Some- 
times of  the  two  forms,  that  found  in  the  Old 
World  is  the  larger.  Perhaps  more  often  the  re- 
verse is  true,  the  American  beast  being  superior  in 
size.  This  is  markedly  the  case  with  the  wapiti, 
which  is  merely  a  giant  brother  of  the  European 
stag,  exactly  as  the  fisher  is  merely  a  very  large 
cousin  of  the  European  sable  or  marten.  The  ex- 
traordinary prong-buck,  the  only  hollow-homed 


The  American  Wilderness  5 

ruminant  which  sheds  its  horns  annually,  is  a  dis- 
tant representative  of  the  Old- World  antelopes  of 
the  steppes ;  the  queer  white  antelope-goat  has  for 
its  nearest  kinsfolk  certain  Himalayan  species.  Of 
the  animals  commonly  known  to  our  hunters  and 
trappers,  only  a  few,  such  as  the  cougar,  peccary, 
raccoon,  possum  (and  among  birds  the  wild  tur- 
key), find  their  nearest  representatives  and  type 
forms  in  tropical  America. 

Of  course,  this  general  resemblance  does  not 
mean  identity.  The  differences  in  plant  life  and 
animal  life,  no  less  than  in  the  physical  features  of 
the  land,  are  sufficiently  marked  to  give  the  Amer- 
ican wilderness  a  character  distinctly  its  own. 
Some  of  the  most  characteristic  of  the  woodland 
animals,  some  of  those  which  have  most  vividly 
impressed  themselves  on  the  imagination  of  the 
hunters  and  pioneer  settlers,  are  the  very  ones 
which  have  no  Old- World  representatives.  The 
wild  turkey  is  in  every  way  the  king  of  American 
game  birds.  Among  the  small  beasts  the  coon 
and  the  possum  are  those  which  have  left  the 
deepest  traces  in  the  humbler  lore  of  the  frontier ; 
exactly  as  the  cougar — usually  under  the  name  of 
panther  or  mountain  lion — is  a  favorite  figure  in 
the  wilder  hunting  tales.  Nowhere  else  is  there 
anything  to  match  the  wealth  of  the  eastern  hard- 
wood forests  in  number,  variety,  and  beauty  of 
trees;   nowhere  else  is  it  possible  to  find  conifers 


6  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

approaching  in  size  the  giant  redwoods  and  se- 
quoias of  the  Pacific  slope.  Nature  here  is  generally 
on  a  larger  scale  than  in  the  Old- World  home  of 
our  race.  The  lakes  are  like  inland  seas,  the  rivers 
like  arms  of  the  sea.  Among  stupendous  moun- 
tain chains  there  are  valleys  and  canyons  of  fath- 
omless depth  and  incredible  beauty  and  majesty. 
There  are  tropical  swamps  and  sad,  frozen  marshes ; 
deserts  and  Death  Valleys,  weird  and  evil,  and  the 
strange  wonderland  of  the  Wyoming  geyser  re- 
gion. The  waterfalls  are  rivers  rushing  over  preci- 
pices; the  prairies  seem  without  limit,  and  the 
forest  never  ending. 

At  the  time  when  we  first  became  a  nation,  nine 
tenths  of  the  territory  now  included  within  the 
limits  of  the  United  States  was  wilderness.  It  was 
during  the  stirring  and  troubled  years  immediately 
preceding  the  outbreak  of  the  Revolution  that 
the  most  adventurous  hunters,  the  vanguard  of  the 
hardy  army  of  pioneer  settlers,  first  crossed  the 
Alleghanies,  and  roamed  far  and  wide  through 
the  lonely,  danger-haunted  forests  which  filled 
the  No-man's-land  lying  between  the  Tennessee 
and  the  Ohio.  They  waged  ferocious  warfare  with 
Shawnee  and  Wyandott  and  wrought  huge  havoc 
among  the  herds  of  game  with  which  the  forest 
teemed.  While  the  first  Continental  Congress  was 
still  sitting,  Daniel  Boon,  the  archetype  of  the 
American  hunter,  was  leading  his  bands  of  tall 


The  American  Wilderness  7 

backwoods  riflemen  to  settle  in  the  beautiful 
coimtry  of  Kentucky,  where  the  red  and  the  white 
warriors  strove  with  such  obstinate  rage  that  both 
races  alike  grew  to  know  it  as  "the  dark  and 
bloody  ground." 

Boon  and  his  fellow-hunters  were  the  heralds 
of  the  oncoming  civilization,  the  pioneers  in  that 
conquest  of  the  wilderness  which  has  at  last  been 
practically  achieved  in  our  own  day.  Where  they 
pitched  their  camps  and  built  their  log  huts  or 
stockaded  hamlets,  towns  grew  up,  and  men  who 
were  tillers  of  the  soil,  not  mere  wilderness  wan- 
derers, thronged  in  to  take  and  hold  the  land. 
Then,  ill  at  ease  among  the  settlements  for  which 
they  had  themselves  made  ready  the  way,  and 
fretted  even  by  the  slight  restraints  of  the  rude 
and  uncouth  semi-civilization  of  the  border,  the 
restless  hunters  moved  onward  into  the  yet  un- 
broken wilds  where  the  game  dwelt  and  the  red 
tribes  marched  forever  to  war  and  hunting.  Their 
untamable  souls  ever  found  something  congenial 
and  beyond  measure  attractive  in  the  lawless  free- 
dom of  the  lives  of  the  very  savages  against  whom 
they  warred  so  bitterly. 

Step  by  step,  often  leap  by  leap,  the  frontier  of 
settlement  was  pushed  westward;  and  ever  from 
before  its  advance  fled  the  warrior  tribes  of  the 
red  men  and  the  scarcely  less  intractable  array  of 
white  Indian  fighters  and  game  hunters.     When 


8  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

the  Revolutionary  War  was  at  its  height,  George 
Rogers  Clark,  himself  a  mighty  hunter  of  the  old 
backwoods  type,  led  his  handful  of  hunter-soldiers 
to  the  conquest  of  the  French  towns  of  the  Illinois. 
This  was  but  one  of  the  many  notable  feats  of 
arms  performed  by  the  wild  soldiery  of  the  back- 
woods. Clad  in  their  fringed  and  tasselled 
hunting  shirts  of  buckskin  or  homespun,  with  coon- 
skin  caps  and  deerhide  leggings  and  moccasins, 
with  tomahawk  and  scalping-knife  thrust  into 
their  bead-worked  belts,  and  long  rifles  in  hand, 
they  fought  battle  after  battle  of  the  most  bloody 
character,  both  against  the  Indians,  as  at  the 
Great  Kanawha,  at  the  Fallen  Timbers,  and  at 
Tippecanoe,  and  against  more  civilized  foes,  as  at 
King's  Mountain,  New  Orleans,  and  the  River 
Thames. 

Soon  after  the  beginning  of  the  present  century 
Louisiana  fell  into  our  hands,  and  the  most  daring 
hunters  and  explorers  pushed  through  the  forests 
of  the  Mississippi  valley  to  the  great  plains, 
steered  across  these  vast  seas  of  grass  to  the  Rocky 
Mountains,  and  then  through  their  rugged  defiles 
onwards  to  the  Pacific  Ocean.  In  every  work  of 
exploration,  and  in  all  the  earlier  battles  with  the 
original  lords  of  the  western  and  southwestern 
lands,  whether  Indian  or  Mexican,  the  adven- 
turous hunters  played  the  leading  part;  while 
close  behind  came  the  swarm  of  hard,  dogged, 


The  American  Wilderness  9 

border-farmers, — a  masterful  race,  good  fighters 
and  good  breeders,  as  all  masterful  races  must  be. 
Very  characteristic  in  its  way  was  the  career  of 
quaint,  honest,  fearless  Davy  Crockett,  the  Ten- 
nessee rifleman  and  Whig  Congressman,  perhaps 
the  best  shot  in  all  our  country,  whose  skill  in  the 
use  of  his  favorite  weapon  passed  into  a  proverb, 
and  who  ended  his  days  by  a  hero's  death  in  the 
ruins  of  the  Alamo.  An  even  more  notable  man 
was  another  mighty  hunter,  Houston,  who  when  a 
boy  ran  away  to  the  Indians ;  who  while  still  a  lad 
returned  to  his  own  people  to  serve  under  Andrew 
Jackson  in  the  campaigns  which  that  greatest  of 
all  the  backwoods  leaders  waged  against  the 
Creeks,  the  Spaniards,  and  the  British.  He  was 
wounded  at  the  storming  of  one  of  the  strong- 
holds of  Red  Eagle's  doomed  warriors,  and  re- 
turned to  his  Tennessee  home  to  rise  to  high  civil 
honor,  and  become  the  foremost  man  of  his  State. 
Then,  while  Governor  of  Tennessee,  in  a  sudden 
fit  of  moody  anger,  and  of  mad  longing  for  the  un- 
fettered life  of  the  wilderness,  he  abandoned  his 
office,  his  people,  and  his  race,  and  fled  to  the 
Cherokees  beyond  the  Mississippi.  For  years  he 
lived  as  one  of  their  chiefs ;  until  one  day,  as  he 
lay  in  ignoble  ease  and  sloth,  a  rider  from  the  south, 
from  the  rolling  plains  of  the  San  Antonio  and 
Brazos,  brought  word  that  the  Texans  were  up, 
and  in  doubtful  struggle  striving  to  wrest  their 


lo  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

freedom  from  the  lancers  and  carbineers  of  Santa 
Anna.  Then  his  dark  soul  flamed  again  into 
burning  life;  riding  by  night  and  day  he  joined 
the  risen  Texans,  was  hailed  by  them  as  a  heaven- 
sent leader,  and  at  the  San  Jacinto  led  them  on  to 
the  overthrow  of  the  Mexican  host.  Thus  the 
stark  hunter,  who  had  been  alternately  Indian 
fighter  and  Indian  chief,  became  the  President  of 
the  new  Republic,  and,  after  its  admission  into 
the  United  States,  a  Senator  at  Washington ;  and, 
to  his  high  honor,  he  remained  to  the  end  of  his 
days  staunchly  loyal  to  the  flag  of  the  Union. 

By  the  time  that  Crockett  fell,  and  Houston  be- 
came the  darling  leader  of  the  Texans,  the  typical 
hunter  and  Indian  fighter  had  ceased  to  be  a 
backwoodsman;  he  had  become  a  plainsman,  or 
mountain-man ;  for  the  frontier,  east  of  which  he 
never  willingly  went,  had  been  pushed  beyond  the 
Mississippi.  Restless,  reckless,  and  hardy,  he 
spent  years  of  his  life  in  lonely  wanderings  through 
the  Rockies  as  a  trapper;  he  guarded  the  slow- 
moving  caravans,  which  for  purposes  of  trade 
journeyed  over  the  dangerous  Santa  Fe  trail;  he 
guided  the  large  parties  of  frontier  settlers  who, 
driving  before  them  their  cattle,  with  all  their 
household  goods  in  their  white-topped  wagons, 
spent  perilous  months  and  seasons  on  their  weary 
way  to  Oregon  or  California.  Joining  in  bands, 
the  stalwart,  skin-clad  riflemen  waged  ferocious 


The  American  Wilderness  1 1 

war  on  the  Indians,  scarcely  more  savage  than 
themselves,  or  made  long  raids  for  plunder  and 
horses  against  the  outlying  Mexican  settlements. 
The  best,  the  bravest,  the  most  modest  of  them  all, 
was  the  renowned  Kit  Carson.  He  was  not  only  a 
mighty  hunter,  a  daring  fighter,  a  finder  of  trails, 
and  maker  of  roads  through  the  unknown,  untrod- 
den wilderness,  but  also  a  real  leader  of  men. 
Again  and  again  he  crossed  and  re-crossed  the 
continent,  from  the  Mississippi  to  the  Pacific ;  he 
guided  many  of  the  earliest  military  and  explor- 
ing expeditions  of  the  United  States  Govern- 
ment; he  himself  led  the  troops  in  victorious 
campaigns  against  Apache  and  Navahoe ;  and  in 
the  Civil  War  he  was  made  a  colonel  of  the 
Federal  army. 

After  him  came  many  other  hunters.  Most 
were  pure-blooded  Americans,  but  many  were 
Creole  Frenchmen,  Mexicans,  or  even  members  of 
the  so-called  civilized  Indian  tribes,  notably  the 
Dela wares.  Wide  were  their  wanderings,  many 
their  strange  adventures  in  the  chase,  bitter  their 
unending  warfare  with  the  red  lords  of  the  land. 
Hither  and  thither  they  roamed,  from  the  deso- 
late, burning  deserts  of  the  Colorado  to  the  grassy 
plains  of  the  upper  Missouri ;  from  the  rolling 
Texas  prairies,  bright  beneath  their  sunny  skies, 
to  the  high  snow  peaks  of  the  northern  Rockies, 
or  the  giant  pine  forests  and  soft,  rainy  weather 


12  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

of  the  coasts  of  Puget  Sound.  Their  main  busi- 
ness was  trapping,  furs  being  the  only  articles 
yielded  by  the  wilderness,  as  they  knew  it,  which 
were  both  valuable  and  portable.  These  early 
hunters  were  all  trappers  likewise,  and,  indeed, 
used  their  rifles  only  to  procure  meat  or  repel  at- 
tacks. The  chief  of  the  fur-bearing  animals  they 
followed  was  the  beaver,  which  abounded  in  the 
streams  of  the  plains  and  mountains;  in  the  far 
north  they  also  trapped  otter,  mink,  sable,  and 
fisher.  They  married  squaws  from  among  the  In- 
dian tribes  with  which  they  happened  for  the  mo- 
ment to  be  at  peace ;  they  acted  as  scouts  for  the 
United  States  troops  in  their  campaigns  against 
the  tribes  with  which  they  happened  to  be  at 
war. 

Soon  after  the  Civil  War  the  life  of  these  hunters, 
taken  as  a  class,  entered  on  its  final  stage.  The 
Pacific  coast  was  already  fairly  well  settled,  and 
there  were  a  few  mining  camps  in  the  Rockies ;  but 
most  of  this  Rocky  Mountains  region,  and  the  en- 
tire stretch  of  plains  country  proper,  the  vast  belt 
of  level  or  rolling  grass -land  lying  between  the  Rio 
Grande  and  the  Saskatchewan,  still  remained  pri- 
meval wilderness,  inhabited  only  by  roving  hunters 
and  formidable  tribes  of  Indian  nomads,  and  by 
the  huge  herds  of  game  on  which  they  preyed. 
Beaver  swarmed  in  the  streams  and  yielded  a  rich 
harvest  to  the  trapper;    but  trapping  was  no 


The  American  Wilderness  13 

longer  the  mainstay  of  the  adventurous  plainsmen. 
Foremost  among  the  beasts  of  the  chase,  on  ac- 
count of  its  numbers,  its  size,  and  its  economic  im- 
portance, was  the  bison,  or  American  buffalo ;  its 
innumerable  multitudes  darkened  the  limitless 
prairies.  As  the  transcontinental  railroads  were 
pushed  towards  completion,  and  the  tide  of  settle- 
ment rolled  onwards  with  ever  increasing  rapidity, 
buffalo  robes  became  of  great  value.  The  hunters 
forthwith  turned  their  attention  mainly  to  the 
chase  of  the  great,  clumsy  beasts,  slaughtering 
them  by  hundreds  of  thousands  for  their  hides; 
sometimes  killing  them  on  horseback,  but  more 
often  on  foot,  by  still-hunting,  with  the  heavy, 
long-range  Sharp's  rifle.  Throughout  the  fifteen 
years  during  which  this  slaughter  lasted,  a  succes- 
sion of  desperate  wars  was  waged  with  the  banded 
tribes  of  the  Horse  Indians.  All  the  time,  in  un- 
ending succession,  long  trains  of  big  white-topped 
wagons  crept  slowly  westward  across  the  prairies, 
marking  the  steady  oncoming  of  the  frontier 
settlers. 

By  the  close  of  1883  the  last  buffalo  herd  was 
destroyed.  The  beaver  were  trapped  out  of  all 
the  streams,  or  their  numbers  so  thinned  that  it  no 
longer  paid  to  follow  them.  The  last  formidable 
Indian  war  had  been  brought  to  a  successful  close. 
The  flood  of  the  incoming  whites  had  risen  over 
the  land ;  tongues  of  settlement  reached  from  the 


14  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

Mississippi  to  the  Rocky  Mountains,  and  from  the 
Rocky  Mountains  to  the  Pacific.  The  frontier 
had  come  to  an  end ;  it  had  vanished.  With  it 
vanished  also  the  old  race  of  wilderness  hunters, 
the  men  who  spent  all  their  days  in  the  lonely 
wilds,  and  who  killed  game  as  their  sole  means  of 
livelihood.  Great  stretches  of  wilderness  still  re- 
main in  the  Rocky  Mountains,  and  here  and  there 
in  the  plains  country,  exactly  as  much  smaller 
tracts  of  wild  land  are  to  be  found  in  the  Alle- 
ghanies  and  northern  New  York  and  New  Eng- 
land ;  and  on  these  tracts  occasional  hunters  and 
trappers  still  linger;  but  as  a  distinctive  class, 
with  a  peculiar  and  important  position  in  Amer- 
ican life,  they  no  longer  exist. 

There  were  other  men  beside  the  professional 
hunters,  who  lived  on  the  borders  of  the  wilder- 
ness, and  followed  hunting,  not  only  as  a  pastime, 
but  also  as  yielding  an  important  portion  of  their 
subsistence.  The  frontier  farmers  were  all  hunt- 
ers. In  the  eastern  backwoods,  and  in  certain 
places  in  the  west,  as  in  Oregon,  these  adven- 
turous tillers  of  the  soil  were  the  pioneers  among 
the  actual  settlers ;  in  the  Rockies  their  places  were 
taken  by  the  miners,  and  on  the  great  plains  by  the 
ranchmen  and  cowboys,  the  men  who  lived  in  the 
saddle,  guarding  their  branded  herds  of  horses  and 
horned  stock.  Almost  all  of  the  miners  and  cow- 
boys were  obliged  on  occasions  to  turn  hunters. 


The  American  Wilderness  15 

Moreover,  the  regular  army  which  played  so  im- 
portant a  part  in  all  the  later  stages  of  the  winning 
of  the  west  produced  its  full  share  of  mighty  hunt- 
ers. The  later  Indian  wars  were  fought  princi- 
pally by  the  regulars.  The  West  Point  officer  and 
his  little  company  of  trained  soldiers  appeared 
abreast  of  the  first  hardy  cattlemen  and  miners. 
The  ordinary  settlers  rarely  made  their  appear- 
ance until,  in  campaign  after  campaign,  always 
inconceivably  wearing  and  harrassing,  and  often 
very  bloody  in  character,  the  scarred  and  tattered 
troops  had  broken  and  overthrown  the  most  for- 
midable among  the  Indian  tribes.  Faithful,  un- 
complaining, unflinching,  the  soldiers  wearing  the 
national  uniform  lived  for  many  weary  years  at 
their  lonely  little  posts,  facing  unending  toil  and 
danger  with  quiet  endurance,  surrounded  by  the 
desolation  of  vast  solitudes,  and  menaced  by  the 
most  merciless  of  foes.  Hunting  was  followed 
not  only  as  a  sport,  but  also  as  the  only  means  of 
keeping  the  posts  and  the  expeditionary  trains  in 
meat.  Many  of  the  officers  became  equally  pro- 
ficient as  marksmen  and  hunters.  The  three  most 
famous  Indian  fighters  since  the  Civil  War,  Gen- 
erals Custer,  Miles,  and  Crook,  were  all  keen  and 
successful  followers  of  the  chase. 

Of  American  big  game  the  bison,  almost  always 
known  as  the  buffalo,  was  the  largest  and  most  im- 
portant to  man.     When  the  first  white  settlers 


i6  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

landed  in  Virginia  the  bison  ranged  east  of  the 
AUeghanies  almost  to  the  sea-coast,  westward  to 
the  dry  deserts  lying  beyond  the  Rocky  Mountains, 
northward  to  the  Great  Slave  Lake  and  south- 
ward to  Chihuahua.  It  was  a  beast  of  the  forests 
and  mountains,  in  the  AUeghanies  no  less  than  in 
the  Rockies ;  but  its  true  home  was  on  the  prairies 
and  the  high  plains.  Across  these  it  roamed 
hither  and  thither,  in  herds  of  enormous,  of  in- 
credible, magnitude ;  herds  so  large  that  they  cov- 
ered the  waving  grass -land  for  hundreds  of  square 
leagues,  and  when  on  the  march  occupied  days 
and  days  in  passing  a  given  point.  But  the  seeth- 
ing myriads  of  shaggy-maned  wild  cattle  vanished 
with  remarkable  and  melancholy  rapidity  before 
the  inroads  of  the  white  hunters  and  the  steady 
march  of  the  oncoming  settlers.  Now  they  are  on 
the  point  of  extinction.  Two  or  three  hundred 
are  left  in  that  great  national  game  preserve,  the 
Yellowstone  Park;  and  it  is  said  that  others  still 
remain  in  the  wintry  desolation  of  Athabasca. 
Elsewhere,  only  a  few  individuals  exist — probably 
considerably  less  than  half  a  hundred  all  told — 
scattered  in  small  parties  in  the  wildest  and  most 
inaccessible  portions  of  the  Rocky  Mountains.  A 
bison  bull  is  the  largest  American  animal.  His 
huge  bulk,  his  short,  curved  black  horns,  the 
shaggy  mane  clothing  his  great  neck  and  shoulders, 
give  him  a  look  of  ferocity  which  his  conduct  be- 


The  American  Wilderness  17 

lies.  Yet  he  is  truly  a  grand  and  noble  beast, 
and  his  loss  from  our  prairies  and  forests  is  as 
keenly  regretted  by  the  lover  of  nature  and  of 
wild  life  as  by  the  hunter. 

Next  to  the  bison  in  size,  and  much  superior  in 
height  to  it  and  to  all  other  American  game — for 
it  is  taller  than  the  tallest  horse — comes  the  moose, 
or  broad-horned  elk.  It  is  a  strange,  uncouth- 
looking  beast,  with  very  long  legs,  short,  thick 
neck,  a  big,  ungainly  head,  a  swollen  nose 
and  huge  shovel  horns.  Its  home  is  in  the 
cold,  wet  pine  and  spruce  forests,  which  stretch 
from  the  subarctic  region  of  Canada  southward  in 
certain  places  across  our  frontier.  Two  centuries 
ago  it  was  found  as  far  south  as  Massachusetts.  It 
has  now  been  exterminated  from  its  former  haunts 
in  northern  New  York  and  Vermont,  and  is  on  the 
point  of  vanishing  from  northern  Michigan.  It  is 
still  found  in  northern  Maine  and  northeastern 
Minnesota  and  in  portions  of  northern  Idaho  and 
Washington;  while  along  the  Rockies  it  extends 
its  range  southward  through  western  Montana  to 
northwestern  Wyoming,  south  of  the  Tetons.  In 
1884  I  saw  the  fresh  hide  of  one  that  was  killed  in 
the  Bighorn  Mountains. 

The  wapiti,  or  round-horned  elk,  like  the  bison, 
and  unlike  the  moose,  had  its  centre  of  abun- 
dance in  the  United  States,  though  extending 
northward    into    Canada.     Originally,   its   range 


VOL.  I.— 2. 


1 8  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

reached  from  ocean  to  ocean  and  it  went  in  herds 
of  thousands  of  individuals;  but  it  has  suffered 
more  from  the  persecution  of  hunters  than  any- 
other  game  except  the  bison.  By  the  beginning 
of  this  century  it  had  been  exterminated  in  most 
locaHties  east  of  the  Mississippi;  but  a  few  Hn- 
gered  on  for  many  years  in  the  Alleghanies.  Col- 
onel Cecil  Clay  informs  me  that  an  Indian  whom 
he  knew  killed  one  in  Pennsylvania  in  1869.  A 
very  few  still  exist  here  and  there  in  northern 
Michigan  and  Minnesota,  and  in  one  or  two  spots 
on  the  western  boundary  of  Nebraska  and  the 
Dakotas;  but  it  is  now  properly  a  beast  of  the 
wooded  western  mountains.  It  is  still  plentiful 
in  western  Colorado,  Wyoming,  and  Montana, 
and  in  parts  of  Idaho,  Washington,  and  Oregon. 
Though  not  as  large  as  the  moose,  it  is  the  most 
beautiful  and  stately  of  all  animals  of  the  deer 
kind,  and  its  antlers  are  marvels  of  symmetrical 
grandeur. 

The  woodland  caribou  is  inferior  to  the  wapiti 
both  in  size  and  symmetry.  The  tips  of  the  many 
branches  of  its  long,  irregular  antlers  are  slightly 
palmated.  Its  range  is  the  same  as  that  of  the 
moose,  save  that  it  does  not  go  so  far  southward. 
Its  hoofs  are  long  and  round;  even  larger  than 
the  long,  oval  hoofs  of  the  moose,  and  much 
larger  than  those  of  the  wapiti.  The  tracks  of 
all  three  can  be  told  apart  at  a  glance,  and  can- 


The  American  Wilderness  19 

not  be  mistaken  for  the  footprints  of  other  game. 
Wapiti  tracks,  however,  look  much  Hke  those  of 
yearling  and  two-year-old  cattle,  unless  the 
ground  is  steep  and  muddy,  in  which  case  the 
marks  of  the  false  hoofs  appear,  the  joints  of 
wapiti  being  more  flexible  than  those  of  domestic 
stock. 

The  whitetail  deer  is  now,  as  it  always  has 
been,  the  best  known  and  most  abundant  of 
American  big  game,  and  though  its  numbers 
have  been  greatly  thinned  it  is  still  found  in 
almost  every  State  of  the  Union.  The  common 
blacktail,  or  mule  deer,  which  has  likewise  been 
sadly  thinned  in  numbers,  though  once  extra- 
ordinarily abundant,  extends  from  the  great 
plains  to  the  Pacific;  but  is  supplanted  on  the 
Puget  Sound  coast  by  the  Columbian  blacktail. 
The  delicate,  heart-shaped  footprints  of  all  three 
are  nearly  indistinguishable;  when  the  animal  is 
running  the  hoof -points  are  of  course  separated. 
The  track  of  the  antelope  is  more  oval,  growing 
squarer  with  age.  Mountain  sheep  leave  foot- 
marks of  a  squarer  shape,  the  points  of  the  hoof 
making  little  indentations  in  the  soil,  well  apart, 
even  when  the  animal  is  only  walking;  and  a 
yearling's  track  is  not  unlike  that  made  by  a 
big  prong-buck  when  striding  rapidly  with  the 
toes  well  apart.  White-goat  tracks  are  also 
square,  and  as  large  as  those  of  the  sheep;   but 


20  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

there  is  less  indentation  of  the  hoof -points,  which 
come  nearer  together. 

The  antelope,  or  prongbuck,  was  once  found 
in  abundance  from  the  eastern  edge  of  the  great 
plains  to  the  Pacific,  but  it  has  everywhere  dimin- 
ished in  numbers,  and  has  been  exterminated 
along  the  eastern  and  western  borders  of  its  for- 
mer range.  The  bighorn,  or  mountain  sheep,  is 
found  in  the  Rocky  Mountains  from  northern 
Mexico  to  Alaska ;  and  in  the  United  States  from 
the  Coast  and  Cascade  ranges  to  the  Bad  Lands 
of  the  western  edges  of  the  Dakotas,  wherever 
there  are  mountain  chains  or  tracts  of  rugged 
hills.  It  was  never  very  abundant,  and,  though 
it  has  become  less  so,  it  has  held  its  own  better 
than  most  game.  The  white -goat,  however,  alone 
among  our  game  animals,  has  positively  increased 
in  numbers  since  the  advent  of  settlers;  because 
white  hunters  rarely  follow  it,  and  the  Indians 
who  once  sought  its  skin  for  robes  now  use  blank- 
ets instead.  Its  true  home  is  in  Alaska  and 
Canada,  but  it  crosses  our  borders  along  the 
lines  of  the  Rockies  and  Cascades,  and  a  few 
small  isolated  colonies  are  found  here  and  there 
southward  to  California  and  New  Mexico. 

The  cougar  and  wolf,  once  common  through- 
out the  United  States,  have  now  completely  dis- 
appeared from  all  save  the  wildest  regions.  The 
black  bear  holds  its  own  better;    it  was  never 


The  American  Wilderness  21 

found  on  the  great  plains.  The  huge  grisly  ranges 
from  the  great  plains  to  the  Pacific.  The  little 
peccary,  or  Mexican  wild  hog,  merely  crosses  our 
southern  border. 

The  finest  hunting-ground  in  America  was,  and 
indeed  is,  the  mountainous  region  of  western 
Montana  and  northwestern  Wyoming.  In  this 
high,  cold  land  o^  lofty  mountains,  deep  forests, 
and  open  prairies,  with  its  beautiful  lakes  and 
rapid  rivers,  all  the  species  of  big  game  men- 
tioned above,  except  the  peccary  and  Columbian 
blacktail,  are  to  be  found.  Until  1880  they  were 
very  abundant,  and  they  are  still,  with  the  ex- 
ception of  the  bison,  fairly  plentiful.  On  most 
of  the  long  hunting  expeditions  which  I  made 
away  from  my  ranch,  I  went  into  this  region. 

The  bulk  of  my  hunting  has  been  done  in  the 
cattle  country,  near  my  ranch  on  the  Little  Mis- 
souri, and  in  the  adjoining  lands  round  the  lower 
Powder  and  Yellowstone.  Until  1881  the  valley 
of  the  Little  Missouri  was  fairly  thronged  with 
game,  and  was  absolutely  unchanged  in  any  re- 
spect from  its  original  condition  of  primeval 
wildness.  With  the  incoming  of  the  stockmen 
all  this  changed,  and  the  game  was  wofully 
slaughtered;  but  plenty  of  deer  and  antelope,  a 
few  sheep  and  bear,  and  an  occasional  elk  are 
still  left. 

Since  the  professional  hunters  have  vanished 


22  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

with  the  vast  herds  of  game  on  which  they  preyed, 
the  Hfe  of  the  ranchman  is  that  which  yields  most 
chance  of  hunting.  Life  on  a  cattle  ranch,  on  the 
great  plains  or  among  the  foothills  of  the  high 
mountains,  has  a  peculiar  attraction  for  those 
hardy,  adventurous  spirits  who  take  most  kindly 
to  a  vigorous  out-of-door  existence,  and  who  are 
therefore  most  apt  to  care  passionately  for  the 
chase  of  big  game.  The  free  ranchman  lives  in 
a  wild,  lonely  coimtry,  and  exactly  as  he  breaks 
and  tames  his  own  horses,  and  guards  and  tends 
his  own  branded  herds,  so  he  takes  the  keenest 
enjoyment  in  the  chase,  which  is  to  him  not 
merely  the  pleasantest  of  sports,  but  also  a  means 
of  adding  materially  to  his  comforts,  and  often 
his  only  method  of  providing  himself  with  fresh 
meat. 

Hunting  in  the  wilderness  is  of  all  pastimes 
the  most  attractive,  and  it  is  doubly  so  when  not 
carried  on  merely  as  a  pastime.  Shooting  over 
a  private  game  preserve  is  of  course  in  no  way  to 
be  compared  to  it.  The  wilderness  hunter  must 
not  only  show  skill  in  the  use  of  the  rifle  and  ad- 
dress in  finding  and  approaching  game,  but  he 
must  also  show  the  qualities  of  hardihood,  self- 
reliance,  and  resolution  needed  for  effectively 
grappling  with  his  wild  surroundings.  The  fact 
that  the  hunter  needs  the  game,  both  for  its  meat 
and  for  its  hide,  undoubtedly  adds  a  zest  to  the 


The  Wilderness  Hunter  23 

pursuit.  Among  the  hunts  which  I  have  most 
enjoyed  were  those  made  when  I  was  engaged  in 
getting  in  the  winter's  stock  of  meat  for  my  ranch, 
or  was  keeping  some  party  of  cowboys  supplied 
with  game  from  day  to  day. 


CHAPTER  II 

HUNTING  FROM  THE  RANCH  ;  THE  BLACKTAIL  DEER 

NO  life  can  be  pleasanter  than  life  during  the 
months  of  fall  on  a  ranch  in  the  northern 
cattle  country.  The  weather  is  cool;  in 
the  evenings  and  on  the  rare  rainy  days  we  are 
glad  to  sit  by  the  great  fireplace,  with  its  roaring 
Cottonwood  logs.  But  on  most  days  not  a  cloud 
dims  the  serene  splendor  of  the  sky ;  and  the  fresh 
pure  air  is  clear  with  the  wonderful  clearness  of 
the  high  plains.  We  are  in  the  saddle  from  morn- 
ing to  night.. 

The  long,  low,  roomy  ranch-house,  of  clean 
hewed  logs,  is  as  comfortable  as  it  is  bare  and 
plain.  We  fare  simply  but  well;  for  the  wife  of 
my  foreman  makes  excellent  bread  and  cake,  and 
there  are  plenty  of  potatoes  grown  in  the  forlorn 
little  garden-patch  on  the  bottom.  We  also  have 
jellies  and  jams,  made  from  wild  plums  and  buf- 
falo berries ;  and  all  the  milk  we  can  drink.  For 
meat,  we  depend  on  our  rifles ;  and,  with  an  occa- 
sional interlude  of  ducks  or  prairie-chickens,  the 
mainstay  of  each  meal  is  venison  —  roasted, 
broiled,  or  fried. 

24 


Hunting  from  the  Ranch  25 

Sometimes  we  shoot  the  deer  when  we  happen 
on  them  while  about  our  ordinary  business, — in- 
deed, throughout  the  time  that  I  have  Hved  on 
the  ranch,  very  many  of  the  deer  and  antelope 
I  killed  were  thus  obtained.  Of  course,  while 
doing  the  actual  round-up  work  it  is  impossible 
to  attend  to  anything  else ;  but  we  generally  carry 
rifles  while  riding  after  the  saddle  band  in  the 
early  morning,  while  visiting  the  line  camps,  or 
while  in  the  saddle  among  the  cattle  on  the  range, 
and  get  many  a  shot  in  this  fashion. 

In  the  fall  of  1890  some  friends  came  to  my 
ranch ;  and  one  day  we  took  them  to  see  a  round- 
up. The  OX,  a  Texan  steer-outfit,  had  sent  a 
couple  of  wagons  to  work  down  the  river,  after 
beef  cattle,  and  one  of  my  men  had  gone  along 
to  gather  any  of  my  own  scattered  steers  that  were 
ready  for  shipping,  and  to  brand  the  late  calves. 
There  were  perhaps  a  dozen  riders  with  the 
wagons ;  and  they  were  camped  for  the  day  on  a 
big  bottom  where  Blacktail  and  Whitetail  creeks 
open  into  the  river,  several  miles  below  my  ranch. 

At  dawn  one  of  the  men  rode  off  to  bring  in 
the  saddle  band.  The  rest  of  us  were  up  by  sun- 
rise; and  as  we  stood  on  the  verandah  under  the 
shimmering  cotton  wood  trees,  revelling  in  the 
blue  and  cloudless  sky,  and  drinking  in  the  cool 
air  before  going  to  breakfast,  we  saw  the  motley- 
colored  string  of  ponies  file  down  from  the  opposite 


26  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

bank  of  the  river,  and  splash  across  the  broad 
shallow  ford  in  front  of  the  ranch -house.  Canter- 
ing and  trotting,  the  band  swept  towards  the  high, 
round  horse-corral,  in  the  open  glade  to  the  rear 
of  the  house.  Guided  by  the  jutting  wing  which 
stuck  out  at  right  angles,  they  entered  the  open 
gate,  which  was  promptly  closed  by  the  cowboy 
who  had  driven  them  in. 

After  breakfast  we  strolled  over  to  the  corral, 
with  our  lariats,  and,  standing  by  the  snubbing- 
post  in  the  middle,  roped  the  horses  we  wished  for 
the  party — some  that  were  gentle,  and  others  that 
'were  not.  Then  every  man  saddled  his  horse ;  and 
at  the  moment  of  mounting  for  the  start  there  was, 
as  always,  a  thrill  of  mild  excitement,  each  rider 
hoping  that  his  own  horse  would  not  buck,  and 
that  his  neighbor's  would.  I  had  no  young  horses 
on  the  ranch  at  the  time;  but  a  number  of  the 
older  ones  still  possessed  some  of  the  least  amiable, 
traits  of  their  youth. 

Once  in  the  saddle  we  rode  off  down  river,  along 
the  bottoms,  crossing  the  stream  again  and  again. 
We  went  in  Indian  file,  as  is  necessary  among  the 
trees  and  in  broken  ground,  following  the  cattle 
trails — which  themselves  had  replaced  or  broad- 
ened the  game  paths  that  alone  crossed  the  pla- 
teaus and  bottoms  when  my  ranch-house  was  first 
built.  Now  we  crossed  open  reaches  of  coarse 
grass,  thinly  sprinkled  with  large,  brittle  cotton- 


Hunting  from  the  Ranch  27 

wood  trees,  their  branches  torn  and  splintered; 
now  we  wound  our  way  through  a  dense  jungle 
where  the  gray,  thorny  buffalo  bushes,  spangled 
with  brilliant  red  berry -clusters,  choked  the  spaces 
between  the  thick-growing  box-alders ;  and  again 
the  sure-footed  ponies  scrambled  down  one  cut 
bank  and  up  another,  through  seemingly  impos- 
sible rifts,  or  with  gingerly  footsteps  trod  a  path 
which  cut  the  side  of  a  butte  or  overhung  a  bluff. 
Sometimes  we  racked,  or  shacked  along  at  the 
fox  trot  which  is  the  cow-pony's  ordinary  gait; 
and  sometimes  we  loped  or  galloped  and  ran. 

At  last  we  came  to  the  ford  beyond  which  the 
riders  of  the  round-up  had  made  their  camp.  In 
the  bygone  days  of  the  elk  and  buffalo,  when  our 
branded  cattle  were  first  driven  thus  far  north, 
this  ford  had  been  dangerous  from  quicksand; 
but  the  cattle,  ever  crossing  and  re-crossing,  had 
trodden  down  and  settled  the  sand,  and  had  found 
out  the  firm  places;  so  that  it  was  now  easy  to 
get  over. 

Close  beyond  the  trees  on  the  farther  bank  stood 
the  two  round-up  wagons ;  near  by  was  the  cook's 
fire,  in  a  trench,  so  that  it  might  not  spread ;  the 
bedding  of  the  riders  and  horse-wranglers  lay  scat- 
tered about,  each  roll  of  blankets  wrapped  and 
corded  in  a  stout  canvas  sheet.  The  cook  was 
busy  about  the  fire;  the  night-wrangler  was 
snatching  an  hour  or  two  's  sleep  under  one  of 


28  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

the  wagons.  Half  a  mile  away,  on  the  plain  of 
sage-brush  and  long  grass,  the  day-wrangler  was 
guarding  the  grazing  ©r  resting  horse  herd,  of  over 
a  hundred  head.  Still  farther  distant,  at  the 
mouth  of  a  ravine,  was  the  day-herd  of  cattle, 
two  or  three  cowboys  watching  it  as  they  lolled 
drowsily  in  their  saddles.  The  other  riders  were 
off  on  circles  to  bring  in  cattle  to  the  round-up; 
they  were  expected  every  moment. 

With  the  ready  hospitality  always  shown  in 
a  cow-camp  we  were  pressed  to  alight  and  take 
dinner,  or  at  least  a  lunch;  and  accordingly  we 
jumped  off  our  horses  and  sat  down.  Our  tin 
plates  were  soon  heaped  with  fresh  beef,  bread, 
tomatoes,  rice,  and  potatoes,  all  very  good;  for 
the  tall,  bearded,  scrawny  cook  knew  his  work, 
and  the  OX  outfit  always  fed  its  men  well — and 
saw  that  they  worked  well,  too. 

Before  noon  the  circle  riders  began  to  appear  on 
the  plain,  coming  out  of  the  ravines,  and  scram- 
bling down  the  steep  hills,  singly  or  in  twos  and 
threes.  They  herded  before  them  bunches  of 
cattle,  of  varying  size;  these  were  driven  to- 
gether and  left  in  charge  of  a  couple  of  cow- 
punchers.  The  other  men  rode  to  the  wagon  to 
get  a  hasty  dinner — lithe,  sinewy  fellows,  with 
weather-roughened  faces  and  fearless  eyes;  their 
broad  felt  hats  flapped  as  they  galloped,  and  their 
spurs  and  bridle  chains  jingled.     They  rode  well, 


Hunting  from  the  Ranch  29 

with  long  stirrups,  sitting  straight  in  the  deep 
stock  saddles,  and  their  wiry  ponies  showed  no 
signs  of  fatigue  from  the  long  morning's  ride. 

The  horse-wrangler  soon  drove  the  saddle  band 
to  the  wagons,  where  it  was  caught  in  a  quickly 
improvised  rope-corral.  The  men  roped  fresh 
horses,  fitted  for  the  cutting- work  round  the  herd, 
with  its  attendant  furious  galloping  and  flash-like 
turning  and  twisting.  In  a  few  minutes  all  were 
in  the  saddle  again  and  riding  towards  the  cattle. 

Then  began  that  scene  of  excitement  and  tur- 
moil, and  seeming  confusion,  but  real  method  and 
orderliness,  so  familiar  to  all  who  have  engaged  in 
stock-growing  on  the  great  plains.  The  riders 
gathered  in  a  wide  ring  round  the  herd  of  uneasy 
cattle,  and  a  couple  of  men  rode  into  their  midst 
to  cut  out  the  beef  steers  and  the  cows  that  were 
followed  by  unbranded  calves.  As  soon  as  the 
animal  was  picked  out  the  cowboy  began  to  drive 
it  slowly  towards  the  outside  of  the  herd,  and 
when  it  was  near  the  edge  he  suddenly  raced  it 
into  the  open.  The  beast  would  then  start  at 
full  speed  and  try  to  double  back  among  its  fel- 
lows; while  the  trained  cow-pony  followed  like  a 
shadow,  heading  it  off  at  every  turn.  The  riders 
round  that  part  of  the  herd  opened  out  and  the 
chosen  animal  was  speedily  hurried  off  to  some 
spot,  a  few  hundred  yards  distant,  where  it  was 
left  under  charge  of  another  cowboy.     The  latter 


30  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

at  first  had  his  hands  full  in  preventing  his  charge 
from  rejoining  the  herd ;  for  cattle  dread  nothing 
so  much  as  being  separated  from  their  comrades. 
However,  as  soon  as  two  or  three  others  were 
driven  out,  enough  to  form  a  little  bunch,  it  be- 
came a  much  easier  matter  to  hold  the  *'cut,"  as 
it  is  called.  The  cows  and  calves  were  put  in  one 
place,  the  beeves  in  another;  the  latter  were 
afterwards  run  into  the  day -herd. 

Meanwhile,  from  time  to  time  some  clean- 
limbed young  steer  or  heifer,  able  to  run  like  an 
antelope  and  double  like  a  jack-rabbit,  tried  to 
break  out  of  the  herd  that  was  being  worked, 
when  the  nearest  cowboy  hurried  in  pursuit  at  top 
speed  and  brought  it  back,  after  a  headlong,  break- 
neck race,  in  which  no  heed  was  paid  to  brush, 
fallen  timber,  prairie-dog  holes,  or  cut  banks.  The 
dust  rose  in  little  whirling  clouds,  and  through  it 
dashed  bolting  cattle  and  galloping  cowboys, 
hither  and  thither,  while  the  air  was  filled  with  the 
shouts  and  laughter  of  the  men,  and  the  bellowing 
of  the  herd. 

As  soon  as  the  herd  was  worked  it  was  turned 
loose,  while  the  cows  and  calves  were  driven  over 
to  a  large  corral,  where  the  branding  was  done.  A 
fire  was  speedily  kindled,  and  in  it  were  laid  the 
branding-irons  of  the  different  outfits  represented 
on  the  round-up.  Then  two  of  the  best  ropers 
rode  into  the  corral  and  began  to  rope  the  calves, 


Hunting  from  the  Ranch  31 

round  the  hind  legs  by  preference,  but  sometimes 
round  the  head.  The  other  men  dismounted  to 
*' wrestle"  and  brand  them.  Once  roped,  the 
calf,  bawling  and  struggling,  was  swiftly  dragged 
near  the  fire,  where  one  or  two  of  the  calf -wrestlers 
grappled  with  and  threw  the  kicking,  plunging  lit- 
tle beast,  and  held  it  while  it  was  branded.  If  the 
calf  was  large  the  wrestlers  had  hard  work;  and 
one  or  two  young  maverick  bulls — that  is,  un- 
branded  yearling  bulls,  which  had  been  passed  by 
in  the  round-ups  of  the  preceding  year — fought 
viciously,  bellowing  and  charging,  and  driving 
some  of  the  men  up  the  sides  of  the  corral,  to  the 
boisterous  delight  of  the  others. 

After  watching  the  work  for  a  little  while  we 
left  and  rode  homewards.  Instead  of  going  along 
the  river  bottoms  we  struck  back  over  the  buttes. 
From  time  to  time  we  came  out  on  some  sharp 
bluff  overlooking  the  river.  From  these  points  of 
vantage  we  could  see  for  several  miles  up  and 
down  the  valley  of  the  Little  Missouri.  The 
level  bottoms  were  walled  in  by  rows  of  sheer 
cliffs,  and  steep,  grassy  slopes.  These  bluff  lines 
were  from  a  quarter  of  a  mile  to  a  mile  apart; 
they  did  not  run  straight,  but  in  a  succession  of 
curves,  so  as  to  look  like  the  halves  of  many  am- 
phitheatres. Between  them  the  river  swept  in 
great  bends  from  side  to  side ;  the  wide  bed,  brim- 
ful during  the  time  of  freshets,  now  held  but  a  thin 


32  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

stream  of  water.  Some  of  the  bottoms  were  cov- 
ered only  with  grass  and  sage-brush ;  others  with  a 
dense  jungle  of  trees;  while  yet  others  looked 
like  parks,  the  cottonwoods  growing  in  curved 
lines  or  in  clumps  scattered  here  and  there. 

On  our  way  we  came  across  a  bunch  of  cattle, 
among  which  the  sharp  eyes  of  my  foreman  de- 
tected a  maverick  two-year-old  heifer.  He  and 
one  of  the  cowboys  at  once  got  down  their  ropes 
and  rode  after  her ;  the  rest  of  us  first  rounding  up 
the  bunch  so  as  to  give  a  fair  start.  After  a  sharp 
run,  one  of  the  men,  swinging  his  lariat  round  his 
head,  got  close  up ;  in  a  second  or  two  the  noose 
settled  round  the  heifer's  neck,  and  as  it  became 
taut  she  was  brought  to  with  a  jerk;  immediately 
afterwards  the  other  man  made  his  throw  and 
cleverly  heeled  her.  In  a  trice  the  red  heifer  was 
stretched  helpless  on  the  ground,  the  two  fierce 
little  ponies,  a  pinto  and  a  buckskin,  keeping  her 
down  on  their  own  account,  tossing  their  heads 
and  backing  so  that  the  ropes  which  led  from  the 
saddle-horns  to  her  head  and  hind  feet  never 
slackened.  Then  we  kindled  a  fire;  one  of  the 
cinch  rings  was  taken  off  to  serve  as  a  branding- 
iron,  and  the  heifer  speedily  became  our  property 
— for  she  was  on  our  range. 

When  we  reached  the  ranch  it  was  still  early, 
and  after  finishing  dinner  it  lacked  over  an  hour 
of  sundown.     Accordingly,  we  went  for  another 


Hunting  from  the  Ranch  33 

ride;  and  I  carried  my  rifle.  We  started  up  a 
winding  coulie  which  opened  back  of  the  ranch- 
house;  and  after  half  an  hour's  canter  clambered 
up  the  steep  head-ravines,  and  emerged  on  a  high 
ridge  which  went  westward,  straight  as  an  arrow, 
to  the  main  divide  between  the  Little  Missouri 
and  the  Big  Beaver.  Along  this  narrow,  grassy 
crest  we  loped  and  galloped ;  we  were  so  high  that 
we  could  look  far  and  wide  over  all  the  country 
round  about.  To  the  southward,  across  a  dozen 
leagues  of  rolling  and  broken  prairie,  loomed 
Sentinel  Butte,  the  chief  landmark  of  all  that  re- 
gion. Behind  us,  beyond  the  river,  rose  the  weird 
chaos  of  Bad  Lands  which  at  this  point  lie  for 
many  miles  east  of  the  Little  Missouri.  Their 
fantastic  outlines  were  marked  against  the  sky  as 
sharply  as  if  cut  with  a  knife ;  their  grim  and  for- 
bidding desolation  warmed  into  wonderful  beauty 
by  the  light  of  the  dying  sun.  On  our  right,  as  we 
loped  onwards,  the  land  sunk  away  in  smooth 
green-clad  slopes  and  valleys;  on  our  left  it  fell 
in  sheer  walls.  Ahead  of  us  the  sun  was  sinking 
behind  a  mass  of  blood-red  clouds ;  and  on  either 
hand  the  flushed  skies  were  changing  their  tint  to 
a  hundred  hues  of  opal  and  amethyst.  Our  tire- 
less little  horses  sprang  under  us,  thrilling  with 
life;  we  were  riding  through  a  fairy  world  of 
beauty  and  color  and  limitless  space  and  freedom. 
Suddenly,  a  short  hundred  yards  in  front,  three 

VOL.  I. — 3. 


34  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

blacktail  leaped  out  of  a  little  glen  and  crossed  our 
path,  with  the  peculiar  bounding  gait  of  their 
kind.  At  once  I  sprang  from  my  horse  and, 
kneeling,  fired  at  the  last  and  largest  of  the  three. 
My  bullet  sped  too  far  back,  but  struck  near  the 
hip,  and  the  crippled  deer  went  slowly  down  a 
ravine.  Running  over  a  hillock  to  cut  it  off,  I 
found  it  in  some  brush  a  few  hundred  yards  be- 
yond and  finished  it  with  a  second  ball.  Quickly 
dressing  it,  I  packed  it  on  my  horse,  and  trotted 
back  leading  him;  an  hour  afterwards  we  saw 
through  the  waning  light  the  quaint,  home-like 
outlines  of  the  ranch-house. 

After  all,  however,  blacktail  can  only  at  times  be 
picked  up  by  chance  in  this  way.  More  often  it  is 
needful  to  kill  them  by  fair  still-hunting,  among 
the  hills  or  wooded  mountains  where  they  delight 
to  dwell.  If  hunted,  they  speedily  become  wary. 
By  choice  they  live  in  such  broken  country  that 
it  is  difficult  to  pursue  them  with  hounds;  and 
they  are  by  no  means  such  water-loving  animals 
as  whitetail.  On  the  other  hand,  the  land  in 
which  they  dwell  is  very  favorable  to  the  still 
hunter  who  does  not  rely  merely  on  stealth,  but 
who  can  walk  and  shoot  well.  They  do  not  go  on 
the  open  prairie,  and,  if  possible,  they  avoid  deep 
forests,  while,  being  good  climbers,  they  like  hills- 
In  the  mountains,  therefore,  they  keep  to  what  is 
called  park  country,  where  glades  alternate  with 


The  Blacktail  Deer  35 

open  groves.  On  the  great  plains  they  avoid  both 
the  heavily  timbered  river  bottoms  and  the  vast 
treeless  stretches  of  level  or  rolling  grass-land; 
their  chosen  abode  being  the  broken  and  hilly  re- 
gion, scantily  wooded,  which  skirts  almost  every 
plains  river  and  forms  a  belt — sometimes  very  nar- 
row, sometimes  many  miles  in  breadth — between 
the  alluvial  bottom  land  and  the  prairies  beyond. 
In  these  Bad  Lands  dwarfed  pines  and  cedars 
grow  in  the  canyon-like  ravines  and  among  the 
high  steep  hills ;  there  are  also  basins  and  winding 
coulies,  filled  with  brush  and  shrubbery  and  small 
elm  or  ash.  In  all  such  places  the  blacktail  loves 
to  make  its  home. 

I  have  not  often  hunted  blacktail  in  the  moun- 
tains, because  while  there  I  was  generally  after 
larger  game ;  but  around  my  ranch  I  have  killed 
more  of  them  than  of  any  other  game,  and  for  me 
their  chase  has  always  possessed  a  peculiar  charm. 
We  hunt  them  in  the  loveliest  season  of  the  year, 
the  fall  and  early  winter,  when  it  is  keen  pleasure 
merely  to  live  out  of  doors.  Sometimes  we  make 
a  regular  trip,  of  several  days'  duration,  taking 
the  ranch -wagon,  with  or  without  a  tent,  to  some 
rugged  and  little  disturbed  spot  where  the  deer 
are  plenty;  perhaps  returning  with  eight  or  ten 
carcasses,  or  even  more — enough  to  last  a  long 
while  in  cold  weather.  We  often  make  such  trips 
while  laying  in  our  winter  supply  of  meat. 


36  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

At  other  times  we  hunt  directly  from  the  ranch- 
house.  We  catch  our  horses  overnight,  and  are 
in  the  saddle  for  an  all-day's  hunt  long  before  the 
first  streak  of  dawn,  possibly  not  returning  until 
some  hours  after  nightfall.  The  early  morning 
and  late  evening  are  the  best  times  for  hunting 
game,  except  in  regions  where  it  is  hardly  ever 
molested,  and  where  in  consequence  it  moves 
about  more  or  less  throughout  the  day. 

During  the  rut,  which  begins  in  September,  the 
deer  are  in  constant  motion,  and  are  often  found 
in  bands.  The  necks  of  the  bucks  swell  and  their 
sides  grow  gaunt;  they  chase  the  does  all  night 
and  their  flesh  becomes  strong  and  stringy — far 
inferior  to  that  of  the  barren  does  and  yearlings. 
The  old  bucks  then  wage  desperate  conflicts  with 
one  another,  and  bully  their  smaller  brethren  un- 
mercifully. Unlike  the  elk,  the  blacktail,  like  the 
whitetail,  are  generally  silent  in  the  rutting  season. 
They  occasionally  grunt  when  fighting ;  and  once, 
on  a  fall  evening,  I  heard  two  young  bucks  bark- 
ing in  a  ravine  back  of  my  ranch-house,  and  crept 
up  and  shot  them;  but  this  was  a  wholly  excep- 
tional instance. 

At  this  time  I  hunt  on  foot,  only  using  the  horse 
to  carry  me  to  and  from  the  hunting-ground ;  for 
while  rutting,  the  deer,  being  restless,  do  not  try 
to  escape  observation  by  lying  still,  and  on  the 
other  hand  are  apt  to  wander  about  and  so  are 


The  Blacktail  Deer  37 

easily  seen  from  a  distance.  When  I  have 
reached  a  favorable  place  I  picket  my  horse  and 
go  from  vantage  point  to  vantage  point,  carefully 
scanning  the  hillsides,  ravines,  and  brush  coulies 
from  every  spot  that  affords  a  wide  outlook.  The 
quarry  once  seen,  it  may  be  a  matter  of  hours,  or 
only  of  minutes,  to  approach  it,  accordingly  as  the 
wind  and  cover  are  or  are  not  favorable.  The 
walks  for  many  miles  over  the  hills,  the  exercise 
of  constant  watchfulness,  the  excitement  of  the 
actual  stalk,  and  the  still  greater  excitement  of 
the  shot,  combine  to  make  still-hunting  the  black- 
tail,  in  the  sharp  fall  weather,  one  of  the  most 
attractive  of  hardy  outdoor  sports.  Then,  after 
the  long,  stumbling  walk  homewards,  through  the 
cool  gloom  of  the  late  evening,  comes  the  meal  of 
smoking  venison  and  milk  and  bread,  and  the 
sleepy  rest,  lying  on  the  bear-skins,  or  sitting  in 
the  rocking-chair  before  the  roaring  fire,  while 
the  icy  wind  moans  outside. 

Earlier  in  the  season,  while  the  does  are  still 
nursing  the  fawns,  and  until  the  bucks  have 
cleaned  the  last  vestiges  of  velvet  from  their  ant- 
lers, the  deer  lie  very  close,  and  wander  round  as 
little  as  may  be.  In  the  spring  and  early  summer, 
in  the  ranch  country,  we  hunt  big  game  very 
little,  and  then  only  antelope ;  because  in  hunting 
antelope  there  is  no  danger  of  killing  aught  but 
bucks.     About  the  first  of  August  we  begin  tc 


38  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

hunt  blacktail,  but  do  not  kill  does  until  a  month 
later — and  then  only  when  short  of  meat.  In  the 
early  weeks  of  the  deer  season  we  frequently  do 
even  the  actual  hunting  on  horseback  instead  of 
on  foot;  because  the  deer  at  this  time  rarely  ap- 
pear in  view,  so  as  to  afford  chance  for  a  stalk, 
and  yet  are  reluctant  to  break  cover  until  very 
closely  approached.  In  consequence,  we  keep  on 
our  horses,  and  so  get  over  much  more  ground 
than  on  foot,  beating  through  or  beside  all  likely 
looking  cover,  with  the  object  of  jumping  the  deer 
close  by.  Under  such  circumstances  bucks  some- 
times lie  until  almost  trodden  on. 

One  afternoon  in  mid- August,  when  the  ranch 
was  entirely  out  of  meat,  I  started  with  one  of 
my  cow-hands,  Merrifield,  to  kill  a  deer.  We  were 
on  a  couple  of  stout,  quiet  ponies,  accustomed  to 
firing  and  to  packing  game.  After  riding  a  mile 
or  two  down  the  bottoms  we  left  the  river  and 
struck  off  up  a  winding  valley,  which  led  back 
among  the  hills.  In  a  short  while  we  were  in  a 
blacktail  country,  and  began  to  keep  a  sharp  look- 
out for  game,  riding  parallel  to,  but  some  little 
distance  from,  one  another.  The  sun,  beating 
down  through  the  clear  air,  was  very  hot;  the 
brown  slopes  of  short  grass,  and  still  more  the 
white  clay  walls  of  the  Bad  Lands,  threw  the  heat 
rays  in  our  faces.  We  skirted  closely  all  likely- 
looking  spots,  such  as  the  heavy  brush-patches  in 


The  Blacktail  Deer  39 

the  bottoms  of  the  winding  valleys,  and  the  groves 
of  ash  and  elm  in  the  basins  and  pockets  flanking 
the  high  plateaus ;  sometimes  we  followed  a  cattle 
trail  which  ran  down  the  middle  of  a  big  washout, 
and  again  we  rode  along  the  brink  of  a  deep  cedar 
canyon.  After  a  while  we  came  to  a  coulie  with 
a  small  muddy  pool  at  its  mouth ;  and  round  this 
pool  there  was  much  fresh  deer  sign.  The  coulie 
was  but  half  a  mile  long,  heading  into  and  flanked 
by  the  spurs  of  some  steep,  bare  hills.  Its  bot- 
tom, which  was  fifty  yards  or  so  across,  was 
choked  by  a  dense  growth  of  brush,  chiefly  thorny 
bullberries,  while  the  sides  were  formed  by  cut 
banks  twelve  or  fifteen  feet  high.  My  companion 
rode  up  the  middle,  while  I  scrambled  up  one  of 
the  banks,  and,  dismounting,  led  my  horse  along 
its  edge,  that  I  might  have  a  clear  shot  at  what- 
ever we  roused.  We  went  nearly  to  the  head,  and 
then  the  cowboy  reined  up  and  shouted  to  me  that 
he  "guessed  there  were  no  deer  in  the  coulie." 
Instantly  there  was  a  smashing  in  the  young  trees 
midway  between  us,  and  I  caught  a  glimpse  of 
a  blacktail  buck  speeding  round  a  shoulder  of 
the  cut  bank:  and  though  I  took  a  hurried  shot 
I  missed.  However,  another  buck  promptly 
jumped  up  from  the  same  place;  evidently,  the 
two  had  lain  secure  in  their  day-beds,  shielded  by 
the  dense  cover,  while  the  cowboy  rode  by  them, 
and  had  only  risen  when  he  halted  and  began  to 


40  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

call  to  me  across  them.  This  second  buck,  a  fine 
fellow  with  big  antlers  not  yet  clear  of  velvet, 
luckily  ran  up  the  opposite  bank  and  I  got  a  fair 
shot  at  him  as  he  galloped  broadside  to  me  along 
the  open  hillside.  When  I  fired  he  rolled  over 
with  a  broken  back.  As  we  came  up  he  bleated 
loudly,  an  unusual  thing  for  a  buck  to  do. 

Now,  these  two  bucks  must  have  heard  us  com- 
ing, but  reckoned  on  our  passing  them  by  with- 
out seeing  them ;  which  we  would  have  done  had 
they  not  been  startled  when  the  cowboy  halted 
and  spoke.  Later  in  the  season  they  would  prob- 
ably not  have  let  us  approach  them,  but  would 
have  run  as  soon  as  they  knew  of  our  presence. 
Of  course,  however,  even  later  in  the  season  a 
man  may  by  chance  stumble  across  a  deer  close 
by.  I  remember  one  occasion  when  my  ranch 
partner,  Robert  Munro  Ferguson,  and  I  almost 
corralled  an  unlucky  deer  in  a  small  washout. 

It  was  October,  and  our  meat  supply  unexpect- 
edly gave  out ;  on  our  ranch,  as  on  most  ranches, 
an  occasional  meat  famine  of  three  or  four  days 
intervenes  between  the  periods  of  plenty.  So 
Ferguson  and  I  started  together  to  get  venison; 
and  at  the  end  of  two  days'  hard  work,  leaving  the 
ranch  by  sunrise,  riding  to  the  hunting-grounds 
and  tramping  steadily  until  dark,  we  succeeded. 
The  weather  was  stormy  and  there  were  continual 
gusts  of  wind  and  of  cold  rain,  sleet,  or  snow. 


The  Blacktail  Deer  41 

We  hunted  through  a  large  tract  of  rough  and 
broken  country,  six  or  eight  miles  from  the  ranch. 
As  often  happens  in  such  wild  weather,  the  deer 
were  wild  too;  they  were  watchful  and  were  on 
the  move  all  the  time.  We  saw  a  number,  but 
either  they  ran  off  before  we  could  get  a  shot,  or 
if  we  did  fire  it  was  at  such  a  distance  or  under 
such  unfavorable  circumstances  that  we  missed. 
At  last,  as  we  were  plodding  drearily  up  a  bare 
valley,  the  sodden  mud  caking  round  our  shoes, 
we  roused  three  deer  from  the  mouth  of  a  short 
washout  but  a  few  paces  from  us.  Two  bounded 
off;  the  third  by  mistake  rushed  into  the  wash- 
out, where  he  found  himself  in  a  regular  trap  and 
was  promptly  shot  by  my  companion.  We  slung 
the  carcass  on  a  pole  and  carried  it  down  to  where 
we  had  left  the  horses ;  and  then  we  loped  home- 
wards, bending  to  the  cold  slanting  rain. 

Although  in  places  where  it  is  much  persecuted 
the  blacktail  is  a  shy  and  wary  beast,  the  success- 
ful pursuit  of  which  taxes  to  the  uttermost  the 
skill  and  energy  of  the  hunter,  yet,  like  the  elk, 
if  little  molested  it  often  shows  astonishing  tame- 
ness  and  even  stupidity.  In  the  Rockies  I  have 
sometimes  come  on  blacktail  within  a  very  short 
distance,  which  would  merely  stare  at  me,  then 
trot  off  a  few  yards,  turn  and  stare  again,  and 
wait  for  several  minutes  before  really  taking  alarm. 
What  is  much  more  extraordinary,  I  have  had  the 


42  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

same  thing  happen  to  me  in  certain  Httle  hunted 
locaHties  in  the  neighborhood  of  my  ranch,  even 
of  recent  years.  In  the  fall  of  1890, 1  was  riding 
down  a  canyon-coulie  with  my  foreman,  Sylvane 
Ferris,  and  a  young  friend  from  Boston,  when  we 
almost  rode  over  a  barren  blacktail  doe.  She  only 
ran  some  fifty  yards,  round  a  corner  of  the  coulie, 
and  then  turned  and  stood  until  we  ran  forward 
and  killed  her — for  we  were  in  need  of  fresh  meat. 
One  October,  a  couple  of  years  before  this,  my 
cousin,  West  Roosevelt,  and  I  took  a.  trip  with 
the  wagon  to  a  very  wild  and  rugged  country, 
some  twenty  miles  from  the  ranch.  We  found 
that  the  deer  had  evidently  been  but  little  dis- 
turbed. One  day  while  scrambling  down  a  steep, 
brushy  hill,  leading  my  horse,  I  came  close  on'  a 
doe  and  fawn;  they  merely  looked  at  me  with 
curiosity  for  some  time,  and  then  sauntered  slowly 
off,  remaining  within  shot  for  at  least  five  min- 
utes. Fortunately,  we  had  plenty  of  meat  at  the 
time,  and  there  was  no  necessity  to  harm  the 
graceful  creatures.  A  few  days  later  we  came  on 
two  bucks  sunning  themselves  in  the  bottom  of 
a  valley.  My  companion  killed  one.  The  other 
was  lying  but  a  dozen  rods  off ;  yet  it  never  moved, 
until  several  shots  had  been  fired  at  the  first.  It 
was  directly  under  me,  and  in  my  anxiety  to  avoid 
overshooting,  to  my  horror  I  committed  the  op- 
posite fault,  and  away  went  the  buck. 


The  Blacktail  Deer  43 

Every  now  and  then  any  one  will  make  most 
unaccountable  misses.  A  few  days  after  thus 
losing  the  buck,  I  spent  nearly  twenty  cartridges 
in  butchering  an  unfortunate  yearling,  and  only 
killed  it  at  all  because  it  became  so  bewildered  by 
the  firing  that  it  hardly  tried  to  escape.  I  never 
could  tell  why  I  used  so  many  cartridges  to  such 
little  purpose.  During  the  next  fortnight  I  killed 
seven  deer  without  making  a  single  miss,  though 
some  of  the  shots  were  rather  difficult. 


CHAPTER  III 

THE    WHITETAIL    DEER;     AND    THE    BLACKTAIL    OF 
THE    COLUMBIA 

THE  whitetail  deer  is  much  the  commonest 
game  animal  of  the  United  States,  being 
still  found,  though  generally  in  greatly 
diminished  numbers,  throughout  most  of  the 
Union.  It  is  a  shrewd,  wary,  knowing  beast ;  but 
it  owes  its  prolonged  stay  in  the  land  chiefly  to 
the  fact  that  it  is  an  inveterate  skulker,  and  fond 
of  the  thickest  cover.  Accordingly,  it  usually  has 
to  be  killed  by  stealth  and  stratagem,  and  not  by 
fair,  manly  hunting;  being  quite  easily  slain  in 
any  one  of  half  a  dozen  unsportsmanlike  ways. 
In  consequence,  I  care  less  for  its  chase  than  for 
the  chase  of  any  other  kind  of  American  big  game. 
Yet  in  the  few  places  where  it  dwells  in  open,  hilly 
forests,  and  can  be  killed  by  still-hunting  as  if  it 
were  a  blacktail — or,  better  still,  where  the  nature 
of  the  ground  is  such  that  it  can  be  run  down  in 
fair  chase  on  horseback,  either  with  greyhounds 
or  with  a  pack  of  trackhounds,  it  yields  splendid 
sport. 

Killing  a  deer  from  a  boat  while  the  poor  ani- 

44 


The  Whitetail  Deer  45 

mal  is  swimming  in  the  water,  or  on  snow-shoes 
as  it  flounders  helplessly  in  the  deep  drifts,  can 
only  be  justified  on  the  plea  of  hunger.  This  is 
also  true  of  lying  in  wait  at  a  lick.  Whoever  in- 
dulges in  any  of  these  methods  save  from  neces- 
sity, is  a  butcher,  pure  and  simple,  and  has  no 
business  in  the  company  of  true  sportsmen. 

Fire  hunting  may  be  placed  in  the  same  cate- 
gory; yet  it  is  possibly  allowable  under  excep- 
tional circumstances  to  indulge  in  a  fire  hunt,  if 
only  for  the  sake  of  seeing  the  wilderness  by  torch- 
light. My  first  attempt  at  big-game  shooting, 
when  a  boy,  was  ''jacking"  for  deer  in  the  Adi- 
rondacks,  on  a  pond  or  small  lake  surrounded  by 
the  grand  northern  forests  of  birch  and  beech, 
pine,  spruce,  and  fir.  I  killed  a  spike  buck ;  and 
while  I  have  never  been  willing  to  kill  another  in 
this  manner,  I  cannot  say  that  I  regret  having 
once  had  the  experience.  The  ride  over  the 
glassy,  black  water,  the  witchcraft  of  such  silent 
progress  through  the  mystery  of  the  night,  cannot 
but  impress  one.  There  is  pleasure  in  the  mere 
buoyant  gliding  of  the  birch-bark  canoe,  with  its 
curved  bow  and  stern;  nothing  else  that  floats 
possesses  such  grace,  such  frail  and  delicate  beauty 
as  this  true  craft  of  the  wilderness,  which  is  as 
much  a  creature  of  the  wild  woods  as  the  deer  and 
bear  themselves.  The  light  streaming  from  the 
bark  lantern  in  the  bow  cuts  a  glaring  lane  through 


46  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

the  gloom ;  in  it  all  objects  stand  out  like  magic, 
shining  for  a  moment  white  and  ghastly  and  then 
vanishing  into  the  impenetrable  darkness;  while 
all  the  time  the  paddler  in  the  stem  makes  not  so 
much  as  a  ripple,  and  there  is  never  a  sound  but 
the  occasional  splash  of  a  muskrat,  or  the  moan- 
ing uloo-oo — uloo-uloo  of  an  owl  from  the  deep 
forests,  and  at  last,  perchance,  the  excitement  of 
a  shot  at  a  buck,  standing  at  gaze,  with  luminous 
eyeballs. 

The  most  common  method  of  killing  the  white- 
tail  is  by  hounding;  that  is,  by  driving  it  with 
hounds  past  runways  where  hunters  are  stationed 
— for  all  wild  animals  when  on  the  move  prefer 
to  follow  certain  definite  routes.  This  is  a  legiti- 
mate, but  inferior,  kind  of  sport. 

However,  even  killing  driven  deer  may  be  good 
fun  at  certain  times.  Most  of  the  whitetail  we 
kill  round  the  ranch  are  obtained  in  this  fashion. 
On  the  Little  Missouri — as  throughout  the  plains 
country  generally — these  deer  cling  to  the  big 
wooded  river  bottoms,  while  the  blacktail  are 
found  in  the  broken  country  back  from  the  river. 
The  tangled  mass  of  cottonwoods,  box-alders,  and 
thorny  bullberry  bushes  which  cover  the  bottoms 
afford  the  deer  a  nearly  secure  shelter  from  the 
still-hunter;  and  it  is  only  by  the  aid  of  hounds 
that  they  can  be  driven  from  their  wooded  fast- 
nesses.    They  hold  their  own  better  than  any 


The  Whitetail  Deer  47 

other  game.  The  great  herds  of  buffalo  and  the 
bands  of  elk  have  vanished  completely;  the 
swarms  of  antelope  and  blacktail  have  been  wo- 
fuUy  thinned ;  but  the  whitetail,  which  were  never 
found  in  such  throngs  as  either  buffalo  or  elk, 
blacktail  or  antelope,  have  suffered  far  less  from 
the  advent  of  the  white  hunters,  ranchmen,  and 
settlers.  They  are,  of  course,  not  as  plentiful  as 
formerly ;  but  some  are  still  to  be  found  in  almost 
all  their  old  haunts.  Where  the  river,  winding 
between  rows  of  high  buttes,  passes  my  ranch- 
house,  there  is  a  long  succession  of  heavily -wooded 
bottoms;  and  on  all  of  these,  even  on  the  one 
whereon  the  house  itself  stands,  there  are  a  good 
many  whitetail  yet  left. 

When  we  take  a  day's  regular  hunt  we  usually 
wander  afar,  either  to  the  hills  after  blacktail  or 
to  the  open  prairie  after  antelope.  But  if  we  are 
short  of  meat,  and  yet  have  no  time  for  a  regular 
hunt,  being  perhaps  able  to  spare  only  a  couple 
of  hours  after  the  day's  work  is  over,  then  all 
hands  turn  out  to  drive  a  bottom  for  whitetail. 
We  usually  have  one  or  two  trackhounds  at  the 
ranch ;  true  southern  deerhounds,  black  and  tan, 
with  lop  ears  and  hanging  lips,  their  wrinkled  faces 
stamped  with  an  expression  of  almost  ludicrous 
melancholy.  They  are  not  fast,  and  have  none 
of  the  alert  look  of  the  pied  and  spotted  modem 
foxhound;    but  their  noses  are  very  keen,  their 


48  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

voices  deep  and  mellow,  and  they  are  wonderfully 
staunch  on  a  trail. 

All  is  bustle  and  laughter  as  we  start  on  such  a 
hunt.  The  baying  hounds  bound  about  as  the 
rifles  are  taken  down;  the  wiry  ponies  are  roped 
out  of  the  corral,  and  each  broad-hatted  hunter 
swings  joyfully  into  the  saddle.  If  the  pony 
bucks  or  "  acts  mean"  the  rider  finds  that  his  rifle 
adds  a  new  element  of  interest  to  the  perform- 
ance, which  is,  of  course,  hailed  with  loud  delight 
by  all  the  men  on  quiet  horses.  Then  we  splash 
off  over  the  river,  scramble  across  the  faces  of  the 
bluffs,  or  canter  along  the  winding  cattle  paths, 
through  the  woods,  until  we  come  to  the  bottom 
we  intend  to  hunt.  Here  a  hunter  is  stationed  at 
each  runway  along  which  it  is  deemed  likely  that 
the  deer  will  pass;  and  one  man,  who  has  re- 
mained on  horseback,  starts  into  the  cover  with 
the  hounds;  occasionally  this  horseman  himself, 
skilled,  as  most  cowboys  are,  in  the  use  of  the  re- 
volver, gets  a  chance  to  kill  a  deer.  The  deep 
baying  of  the  hounds  speedily  gives  warning  that 
the  game  is  afoot ;  and  the  watching  hunters,  who 
have  already  hid  their  horses  carefully,  look  to 
their  rifles.  Sometimes  the  deer  comes  far  ahead 
of  the  dogs,  running  very  swiftly  with  neck 
stretched  straight  out ;  and  if  the  cover  is  thick, 
such  an  animal  is  hard  to  hit.  At  other  times, 
especially  if  the  quarry  is  a  young  buck,  it  plays 


The  Whitetail  Deer  49 

along  not  very  far  ahead  of  its  baying  pursuers, 
bounding  and  strutting  with  head  up  and  white 
flag  flaunting.  If  struck  hard,  down  goes  the  flag 
at  once,  and  the  deer  plunges  into  a  staggering 
run,  while  the  hounds  yell  with  eager  ferocity  as 
they  follow  the  bloody  trail.  Usually  we  do  not 
have  to  drive  more  than  one  or  two  bottoms  be- 
fore getting  a  deer,  which  is  forthwith  packed 
behind  one  of  the  riders,  as  the  distance  is  not 
great,  and  home  we  come  in  triumph.  Some- 
times, however,  we  fail  to  find  game,  or  the  deer 
take  unguarded  passes,  or  the  shot  is  missed. 
Occasionally  I  have  killed  deer  on  these  hunts; 
generally  I  have  merely  sat  still  a  long  while,  lis- 
tened to  the  hounds,  and  at  last  heard  somebody 
else  shoot.  In  fact,  such  hunting,  though  good 
enough  fun  if  only  tried  rarely,  would  speedily 
pall  if  followed  at  all  regularly. 

Personally,  the  chief  excitement  I  have  had  in 
connection  therewith  has  arisen  from  some  antic 
of  my  horse;  a  half -broken  bronco  is  apt  to  be- 
come unnerved  when  a  man  with  a  gun  tries  to 
climb  on  him  in  a  hurry.  On  one  hunt,  in  1890, 
I  rode  a  wild  animal  named  Whitefoot.  He  had 
been  a  confirmed  and  very  bad  bucker  three 
years  before,  when  I  had  him  in  my  string  on 
the  round-up ;  but  had  grown  quieter  with  years. 
Nevertheless,  I  found  he  had  some  fire  left ;  for  a 
hasty  vault    into   the    saddle   on  my   part  was 


50  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

followed  on  his  by  some  very  resolute  pitching.  I 
lost  my  rifle  and  hat,  and  my  revolver  and  knife 
were  bucked  out  of  my  belt;  but  I  kept  my 
seat  all  right,  and  finally  got  his  head  up  and 
mastered  him  without  letting  him  throw  himself 
over  backwards,  a  trick  he  sometimes  practised. 
Nevertheless,  in  the  first  jump,  when  I  was  taken 
unawares,  I  strained  myself  across  the  loins,  and 
did  not  get  entirely  over  it  for  six  months. 

To  shoot  running  game  with  the  rifle,  it  is  al- 
ways necessary  to  be  a  good  and  quick  marksman ; 
for  it  is  never  easy  to  kill  an  animal,  when  in  rapid 
motion,  with  a  single  bullet.  If  on  a  runway,  a 
man  who  is  a  fairly  skilful  rifleman  has  plenty  of 
time  for  a  clear  shot,  on  open  ground,  at  com- 
paratively short  distance,  say  under  eighty  yards, 
and  if  the  deer  is  cantering  he  ought  to  hit;  at 
least,  I  generally  do  under  such  circumstances,  by 
remembering  to  hold  well  forward — in  fact,  just  in 
front  of  the  deer's  chest.  But  I  do  not  always 
kill,  by  any  means ;  quite  often  when  I  thought  I 
held  far  enough  ahead,  my  bullet  has  gone  into 
the  buck's  hips  or  loins.  However,  one  great 
feature  in  the  use  of  dogs  is  that  they  enable  one 
almost  always  to  recover  wounded  game. 

If  the  animal  is  running  at  full  speed  a  long 
distance  off,  the  difficulty  of  hitting  is,  of  course, 
very  much  increased ;  and  if  the  country  is  open 
the  value  of  a  repeating  rifle  is  then  felt.     If  the 


The  Whitetail  Deer  51 

game  is  bounding  over  logs  or  dodging  through 
underbrush,  the  difficuhy  is  again  increased. 
Moreover,  the  natural  gait  of  the  different  kinds 
of  game  must  be  taken  into  account.  Of  course, 
the  larger  kinds,  such  as  elk  and  moose,  are  the 
easiest  to  hit;  then  comes  the  antelope,  in  spite 
of  its  swiftness,  and  the  sheep,  because  of  the  even- 
ness of  their  running ;  then  the  whitetail,  with  its 
rolling  gallop;  and  last  and  hardest  of  all,  the 
blacktail,  because  of  its  extraordinary  stiff -legged 
bounds. 

Sometimes  on  a  runway  the  difficulty  is  not  that 
the  game  is  too  far,  but  that  it  is  too  close ;  for  a 
deer  may  actually  almost  jump  on  the  hunter, 
surprising  him  out  of  all  accuracy  of  aim.  Once 
something  of  the  sort  happened  to  me. 

Winter  was  just  beginning.  I  had  been  off  with 
the  ranch-wagon  on  a  last  round-up  of  the  beef 
steers ;  and  had  suffered  a  good  deal,  as  one  always 
does  on  these  cold- weather  round-ups,  sleeping 
out  in  the  snow,  wrapped  up  in  blankets  and  tar- 
paulin, with  no  tent  and  generally  no  fire.  More- 
over, I  became  so  weary  of  the  interminable 
length  of  the  nights,  that  I  almost  ceased  to  mind 
the  freezing  misery  of  standing  night-guard  round 
the  restless  cattle;  while  roping,  saddling,  and 
mastering  the  rough  horses  each  morning,  with 
numbed  and  stiffened  limbs,  though  warming  to 
the  blood,  was  harrowing  to  the  temper. 


52  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

On  my  return  to  the  ranch  I  found  a  strange 
hunter  staying  there — a  clean,  square-built,  hon- 
est-looking little  fellow,  but  evidently  not  a  native 
American.  As  a  rule,  nobody  displays  much  curi- 
osity about  any  one's  else  antecedents  in  the  Far 
West;  but  I  happened  to  ask  my  foreman  who 
the  newcomer  was, — chiefly  because  the  said  new- 
comer, evidently  appreciating  the  warmth  and 
comfort  of  the  clean,  roomy,  ranch-house,  with 
its  roaring  fires,  books,  and  good  fare,  seemed  in- 
clined to  make  a  permanent  stay,  according  to  the 
custom  of  the  country.  My  foreman,  who  had  a 
large  way  of  looking  at  questions  of  foreign  eth- 
nology and  geography,  responded  with  indiffer- 
ence: *'0h,  he's  a  kind  of  a  Dutchman;  but  he 
hates  the  other  Dutch,  mortal.  He's  from  an 
island  Germany  took  from  France  in  the  last 
war!"  This  seemed  puzzling;  but  it  turned  out 
that  the  "island"  in  question  was  Alsace.  Na- 
tive Americans  predominate  among  the  dwellers 
in  and  on  the  borders  of  the  wilderness,  and  in  the 
wild  country  over  which  the  great  herds  of  the 
cattlemen  roam ;  and  they  take  the  lead  in  every 
way.  The  sons  of  the  Germans,  Irish,  and  other 
European  newcomers  are  usually  quick  to  claim 
to  be  "straight  United  States,"  and  to  disavow 
all  kinship  with  the  fellow-countrymen  of  their 
fathers.  Once,  while  with  a  hunter  bearing  a 
German  name,  we  came  by  chance  on  a  German 


The  Whitetail  Deer  53 

hunting  party  from  one  of  the  eastern  cities.  One 
of  them  remarked  to  my  companion  that  he  must 
be  part  German  himself,  to  which  he  cheerfully 
answered:  "Well,  my  father  was  a  Dutchman, 
but  my  mother  was  a  white  woman !  I  'm  pretty 
white  myself!"  whereat  the  Germans  glowered  at 
him  gloomily. 

As  we  were  out  of  meat,  the  Alsatian  and  one 
of  the  cowboys  and  I  started  down  the  river  with 
a  wagon.  The  first  day  in  camp  it  rained  hard, 
so  that  we  could  not  hunt.  Towards  evening  we 
grew  tired  of  doing  nothing,  and  as  the  rain  had 
become  a  mere  fine  drizzle,  we  sallied  out  to  drive 
one  of  the  bottoms  for  whitetail.  The  cowboy 
and  our  one  trackhound  plunged  into  the  young 
Cottonwood,  which  grew  thickly  over  the  sandy 
bottom;  while  the  little  hunter  and  I  took  our 
stands  on  a  cut  bank,  twenty  feet  high  and  half 
a  mile  long,  which  hedged  in  the  trees  from  be- 
hind. Three  or  four  game  trails  led  up  through 
steep,  narrow  clefts  in  this  bank ;  and  we  tried  to 
watch  these.  Soon  I  saw  a  deer  in  an  opening 
below,  headed  towards  one  end  of  the  bank, 
round  which  another  game  trail  led;  and  I  ran 
hard  towards  this  end,  where  it  turned  into  a 
knife-like  ridge  of  clay.  About  fifty  yards  from 
the  point  there  must  have  been  some  slight  irreg- 
ularities in  the  face  of  the  bank,  enough  to  give 
the  deer  a  foothold ;  for  as  I  ran  along  the  animal 


54  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

suddenly  bounced  over  the  crest,  so  close  that  I 
could  have  hit  it  with  my  right  hand.  As  I  tried 
to  pull  up  short  and  swing  round,  my  feet  slipped 
from  under  me  in  the  wet  clay,  and  down  I  went ; 
while  the  deer  literally  turned  a  terrified  somer- 
sault backwards.  I  flung  myself  to  the  edge  and 
missed  a  hurried  shot  as  it  raced  back  on  its  track. 
Then,  wheeling,  I  saw  the  little  hunter  running 
towards  me  along  the  top  of  the  cut  bank,  his 
face  on  a  broad  grin.  He  leaped  over  one  of  the 
narrow  clefts,  up  which  a  game  trail  led;  and 
hardly  was  he  across  before  the  frightened  deer 
bolted  up  it,  not  three  yards  from  his  back.  He 
did  not  turn,  in  spite  of  my  shouting  and  hand- 
waving,  and  the  frightened  deer,  in  the  last  stage 
of  panic  at  finding  itself  again  almost  touching 
one  of  its  foes,  sped  off  across  the  grassy  slopes 
like  a  quarter  horse.  When  at  last  the  hunter 
did  turn,  it  was  too  late ;  and  our  long-range  fusil- 
lade proved  harmless.  During  the  next  two  days 
I  redeemed  myself,  killing  four  deer. 

Coming  back,  our  wagon  broke  down,  no  un- 
usual incident  in  ranchland,  where  there  is  often 
no  road,  while  the  strain  is  great  in  hauling 
through  quicksands,  and  up  or  across  steep, 
broken  hills ;  it  rarely  makes  much  difference  be- 
yond the  temporary  delay,  for  plainsmen  and 
mountainmen  are  very  handy  and  self-helpful. 
Besides,  a  mere  breakdown   sinks   into  nothing 


The  Whitetail  Deer  55 

compared  to  having  the  team  play  out ;  which  is, 
of  course,  most  apt  to  happen  at  the  times  when 
it  insures  hardship  and  suffering,  as  in  the  middle 
of  a  snowstorm,  or  when  crossing  a  region  with 
no  water.  However,  the  reinsmen  of  the  plains 
must  needs  face  many  such  accidents,  not  to  speak 
of  runaways,  or  having  the  wagon  pitchpole  over 
on  to  the  team  in  dropping  down  too  steep  a  hill- 
side. Once,  after  a  three  days'  rainstorm,  some  of 
us  tried  to  get  the  ranch -wagon  along  a  trail  which 
led  over  the  ridge  of  a  gumbo  or  clay  butte.  The 
sticky  stuff  clogged  our  shoes,  the  horses'  hoofs, 
and  the  wheels;  and  it  was  even  more  slippery 
than  it  was  sticky.  Finally,  we  struck  a  sloping 
shoulder ;  with  great  struggling,  pulling,  pushing, 
and  shouting,  we  reached  the  middle  of  it,  and 
then,  as  one  of  my  men  remarked,  ''the  whole 
darned  outfit  slid  into  the  coulie." 

These  hunting  trips  after  deer  or  antelope  with 
the  wagon  usually  take  four  or  five  days.  I  al- 
ways ride  some  tried  hunting-horse;  and  the 
wagon  itself,  when  on  such  a  hunt,  is  apt  to  lead 
a  chequered  career,  as  half  the  time  there  is  not 
the  vestige  of  a  trail  to  follow.  Moreover,  we 
often  make  a  hunt  when  the  good  horses  are  on 
the  round-up,  or  otherwise  employed,  and  we  have 
to  get  together  a  scrub  team  of  cripples  or  else 
of  outlaws — vicious  devils,  only  used  from  dire 
need.     The  best  teamster  for  such  a  hunt  that 


56  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

we  ever  had  on  the  ranch  was  a  weather-beaten 
old  fellow,  known  as  "Old  Man  Tompkins." 
In  the  course  of  a  long  career  as  lumberman, 
plains  teamster,  buffalo  -  hunter,  and  Indian 
fighter,  he  had  passed  several  years  as  a  Rocky 
Mountain  stage-driver;  and  a  stage-driver  of  the 
Rockies  is  of  necessity  a  man  of  such  skill  and 
nerve  that  he  fears  no  team  and  no  country.  No 
matter  how  wild  the  unbroken  horses.  Old  Tomp- 
kins never  asked  help ;  and  he  hated  to  drive  less 
than  a  four-in-hand.  When  he  once  had  a  grip 
on  the  reins,  he  let  no  one  hold  the  horses'  heads. 
All  he  wished  was  an  open  plain  for  the  rush  at 
the  beginning.  The  first  plunge  might  take  the 
wheelers'  forefeet  over  the  crossbars  of  the 
leaders,  but  he  never  stopped  for  that ;  on  went 
the  team,  running,  bounding,  rearing,  tumbling, 
while  the  wagon  leaped  behind,  until  gradually 
things  straightened  out  of  their  own  accord.  I 
soon  found,  however,  that  I  could  not  allow  him 
to  carry  a  rifle;  for  he  was  an  inveterate  game 
butcher.  In  the  presence  of  game  the  old  fellow 
became  fairly  wild  with  excitement,  and  forgot 
the  years  and  rheumatism  which  had  crippled 
him.  Once,  after  a  long  and  tiresome  day's  hunt, 
we  were  walking  home  together ;  he  was  carrying 
his  boots  in  his  hands,  bemoaning  the  fact  that 
his  feet  hurt  him.  Suddenly  a  whitetail  jumped 
up;    down  dropped  Old  Tompkins's  boots,  and 


The  White  tail  Deer  57 

away  he  went  like  a  college  sprinter,  entirely 
heedless  of  stones  and  cactus.  By  some  indis- 
criminate firing  at  long  range  we  dropped  the  deer ; 
and  as  Old  Tompkins  cooled  down  he  realized 
that  his  bare  feet  had  paid  full  penalty  for  his  dash. 
One  of  these  wagon  trips  I  remember  because 
I  missed  a  fair  running  shot  which  I  much  de- 
sired to  hit,  and  afterwards  hit  a  very  much  more 
difficult  shot  about  which  I  cared  very  little. 
Ferguson  and  I,  with  Sylvane  and  one  or  two 
others,  had  gone  a  day's  journey  down  the  river 
for  a  hunt.  We  went  along  the  bottoms,  cross- 
ing the  stream  every  mile  or  so,  with  an  occasional 
struggle  through  mud  or  quicksand,  or  up  the 
steep,  rotten  banks.  An  old  buffalo-hunter  drove 
the  wagon,  with  a  couple  of  shaggy,  bandy-legged 
ponies;  the  rest  of  us  jogged  along  in  front  on 
horseback,  picking  out  a  trail  through  the  bot- 
toms and  choosing  the  best  crossing-places.  Some 
of  the  bottoms  were  grassy  pastures ;  on  others, 
great,  gnarled  cotton  woods,  with  shivered  branches, 
stood  in  clumps;  yet  others  were  choked  with  a 
true  forest  growth.  Late  in  the  afternoon  we 
went  into  camp,  choosing  a  spot  where  the  cotton- 
woods  were  young;  their  glossy  leaves  trembled 
and  rustled  unceasingly.  We  speedily  picketed 
the  horses, — changing  them  about  as  they  ate 
off  the  grass, — drew  water,  and  hauled  great  logs 
in  front  of  where  we  had  pitched  the  tent,  while 


58  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

the  wagon  stood  nearby.  Each  man  laid  out  his 
bed ;  the  food  and  kitchen  kit  were  taken  from 
the  wagon;  supper  was  cooked  and  eaten;  and 
we  then  lay  round  the  camp-fire,  gazing  into  it,  or 
up  at  the  brilliant  stars,  and  listening  to  the  wild, 
mournful  wailing  of  the  coyotes.  They  were  very 
plentiful  round  this  camp;  before  sunrise  and 
after  sundown  they  called  unceasingly. 

Next  day  I  took  a  long  tramp  and  climb  after 
mountain  sheep  and  missed  a  running  shot  at  a 
fine  ram,  about  a  hundred  yards  off;  or,  rather, 
I  hit  him  and  followed  his  bloody  trail  a  couple 
of  miles,  but  failed  to  find  him;  whereat  I  re- 
turned to  camp  much  cast  down. 

Early  the  following  morning,  Sylvane  and  I 
started  for  another  hunt,  this  time  on  horseback. 
The  air  was  crisp  and  pleasant ;  the  beams  of  the 
just-risen  sun  struck  sharply  on  the  umber-col- 
ored hills  and  white  cliff  walls  guarding  the  river, 
bringing  into  high  relief  their  strangely  carved  and 
channelled  fronts.  Below  camp  the  river  was 
little  but  a  succession  of  shallow  pools  strung 
along  the  broad,  sandy  bed,  which  in  springtime 
was  filled  from  bank  to  bank  with  foaming  muddy 
water.  Two  mallards  sat  in  one  of  these  pools; 
and  I  hit  one  with  the  rifle,  so  nearly  missing  that 
the  ball  scarcely  ruffled  a  feather;  yet  in  some 
way  the  shock  told,  for  the  bird,  after  flying  thirty 
yards,  dropped  on  the  sand. 


The  Whitetail  Deer  59 

Then  we  left  the  river  and  our  active  ponies 
scrambled  up  a  small  canyon-like  break  in  the 
bluffs.  All  day  we  rode  among  the  hills;  some- 
times across  rounded  slopes,  matted  with  short 
buffalo  grass;  sometimes  over  barren  buttes  of 
red  or  white  clay,  where  only  sage-brush  and  cac- 
tus grew;  or  beside  deep  ravines,  black  with 
stunted  cedar ;  or  along  beautiful  winding  coulies, 
where  the  grass  grew  rankly,  and  the  thickets  of 
ash  and  wild  plum  made  brilliant  splashes  of  red 
and  yellow  and  tender  green.    Yet  we  saw  nothing. 

As  evening  drew  on,  we  rode  riverwards;  we 
slid  down  the  steep  bluff  walls,  and  loped  across  a 
great  bottom  of  sage-brush  and  tall  grass,  our 
horses  now  and  then  leaping  like  cats  over  the 
trunks  of  dead  cottonwoods.  As  we  came  to  the 
brink  of  the  cut  bank  which  forms  the  hither 
boundary  of  the  river  in  freshet  time,  we  suddenly 
saw  two  deer,  a  doe  and  a  well-grown  fawn — of 
course,  long  out  of  the  spotted  coat.  They  were 
walking  with  heads  down  along  the  edge  of  a  sand- 
bar, near  a  pool,  on  the  farther  side  of  the  stream 
bed,  over  two  hundred  yards  distant.  They  saw 
us  at  once,  and  turning,  galloped  away  with 
flags  aloft,  the  pictures  of  springing,  vigorous 
beauty.  I  jumped  off  my  horse  in  an  instant, 
knelt,  and  covered  the  fawn.  It  was  going 
straight  away  from  me,  running  very  evenly,  and 
I  drew  a  coarse  sight  at  the  tip  of  the  white  flag. 


6o  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

As  I  pulled  trigger  down  went  the  deer,  the  ball 
having  gone  into  the  back  of  its  head.  The  dis- 
tance was  a  good  three  hundred  yards ;  and  while, 
of  course,  there  was  much  more  chance  than  skill 
in  the  shot,  I  felt  well  pleased  with  it — though  I 
could  not  help  a  regret  that  while  making  such  a 
difficult  shot  at  a  mere  whitetail,  I  should  have 
missed  a  much  easier  shot  at  a  noble  bighorn. 
Not  only  I,  but  all  the  camp,  had  a  practical  in- 
terest in  my  success;  for  we  had  no  fresh  meat, 
and  a  fat  whitetail  fawn,  killed  in  October,  yields 
the  best  of  venison.  So,  after  dressing  the  deer, 
I  slung  the  carcass  behind  my  saddle,  and  we  rode 
swiftly  back  to  camp  through  the  dark ;  and  that 
evening  we  feasted  on  the  juicy  roasted  ribs. 

The  degree  of  tameness  and  unsuspiciousness 
shown  by  whitetail  deer  depends,  of  course,  upon 
the  amount  of  molestation  to  which  they  are  ex- 
posed. Their  times  for  sleeping,  feeding,  and  com- 
ing to  water,  vary  from  the  same  cause.  Where 
they  are  little  persecuted  they  feed  long  after  sim- 
rise  and  before  sunset,  and  drink  when  the  sun  is 
high  in  the  heavens,  sometimes  even  at  midday; 
they  then  show  but  little  fear  of  man,  and  speed- 
ily become  indifferent  to  the  presence  of  deserted 
dwellings. 

In  the  cattle  country  the  ranch-houses  are  often 
shut  during  the  months  of  warm  weather,  when 
the  round-ups  succeed  one  another  without  inter- 


The  Whitetail  Deer  6i 

mission,  as  the  calves  must  be  branded,  the  beeves 
gathered  and  shipped,  long  trips  made  to  collect 
strayed  animals,  and  the  trail  stock  driven  from 
the  breeding-  to  the  fattening-grounds.  At  that 
time  all  the  menfolk  may  have  to  be  away  in  the 
white-topped  wagons,  working  among  the  homed 
herds,  whether  plodding  along  the  trail,  or  wan- 
dering to  and  fro  on  the  range.  Late  one  sum- 
mer, when  my  own  house  had  been  thus  closed 
for  many  months,  I  rode  thither  with  a  friend  to 
pass  a  week.  The  place  already  wore  the  look  of 
having  slipped  away  from  the  domain  of  man. 
The  wild  forces,  barely  thrust  back  beyond  the 
threshhold  of  our  habitation,  were  prompt  to 
spring  across  it  to  renewed  possession  the  moment 
we  withdrew.  The  rank  grass  grew  tall  in  the 
yard  and  on  the  sodded  roofs  of  the  stable  and 
sheds ;  the  weather-beaten  log  walls  of  the  house 
itself  were  one  in  tint  with  the  trunks  of  the 
gnarled  cotton  woods  by  which  it  was  shaded. 
Evidently,  the  woodland  creatures  had  come  to 
regard  the  silent,  deserted  buildings  as  mere  out- 
growths of  the  wilderness,  no  more  to  be  feared 
than  the  trees  around  them,  or  the  gray,  strangely- 
shaped  buttes  behind. 

Lines  of  delicate,  heart-shaped  footprints  in  the 
muddy  reaches  of  the  half -dry  river-bed  showed 
where  the  deer  came  to  water ;  and  in  the  dusky 
cattle  trails  among  the  ravines  many  round  tracks 


62  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

betrayed  the  passing  and  repassing  of  timber 
wolves, — once  or  twice  in  the  late  evening  we  lis- 
tened to  their  savage  and  melancholy  howling. 
Cottontail  rabbits  burrowed  under  the  verandah. 
Within  doors  the  bushy -tailed  pack-rats  had  pos- 
session, and  at  night  they  held  a  perfect  witches' 
sabbath  in  the  garret  and  kitchen;  while  a  little 
white-footed  mouse,  having  dragged  half  the  stuf- 
fing out  of  a  mattress,  had  made  thereof  a  big 
fluffy  nest,  entirely  filling  the  oven.   ' 

Yet,  in  spite  of  the  abundant  sign  of  game,  we 
at  first  suffered  under  one  of  those  spells  of  ill- 
luck  which  at  times  befall  all  hunters,  and  for 
several  days  we  could  kill  nothing,  though  we 
tried  hard,  being  in  need  of  fresh  meat.  The 
moon  was  full — each  evening,  sitting  on  the  ranch 
verandah,  or  walking  homeward,  we  watched  it 
rise  over  the  line  of  bluffs  beyond  the  river — and 
the  deer  were  feeding  at  night ;  moreover,  in  such 
hot  weather  they  lie  very  close,  move  as  little  as 
possible,  and  are  most  difficult  to  find.  Twice  we 
lay  out  from  dusk  until  dawn,  in  spite  of  the  mos- 
quitoes, but  saw  nothing ;  and  the  chances  we  did 
get  we  failed  to  profit  by. 

One  morning,  instead  of  trudging  out  to  hunt, 
I  stayed  at  home,  and  sat  in  a  rocking-chair  on  the 
verandah  reading,  rocking,  or  just  sitting  still  lis- 
tening to  the  low  rustling  of  the  cottonwood 
branches  overhead,  and  gazing  across  the  river. 


The  Columbian  Blacktail  Deer      63 

Through  the  still,  clear,  hot  air,  the  faces  of  the 
bluffs  shone  dazzling  white ;  no  shadow  fell  from 
the  cloudless  sky  on  the  grassy  slopes,  or  on  the 
groves  of  timber ;  only  the  far-away  cooing  of  a 
mourning  dove  broke  the  silence.  Suddenly  my 
attention  was  arrested  by  a  slight  splashing  in  the 
water;  glancing  up  from  my  book  I  saw  three 
deer,  which  had  come  out  of  the  thick  fringe  of 
bushes  and  young  trees  across  the  river,  and  were 
strolling  along  the  sand-bars  directly  opposite  me. 
Slipping  stealthily  into  the  house,  I  picked  up  my 
rifle  and  slipped  back  again.  One  of  the  deer  was 
standing  motionless,  broadside  to  me;  it  was  a 
long  shot,  two  hundred  and  fifty  yards,  but  I  had 
a  rest  against  a  pillar  of  the  verandah.  I  held 
true,  and  as  the  smoke  cleared  away  the  deer  lay 
struggling  on  the  sands. 

As  the  whitetail  is  the  most  common  and  widely 
distributed  of  American  game,  so  the  Columbian 
blacktail  has  the  most  sharply  limited  geographi- 
cal range;  for  it  is  confined  to  the  northwest 
coast,  where  it  is  by  far  the  most  abundant  deer. 
In  antlers  it  is  indistinguishable  from  the  common 
blacktail  of  the  Rockies  and  the  great  plains,  and 
it  has  the  regular  blacktail  gait,  a  succession  of 
stiff -legged  bounds  on  all  four  feet  at  once;  but 
its  tail  is  more  like  a  whitetail's  in  shape,  though 
black  above.     As  regards  methods  of  hunting,  and 


64  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

the  amount  of  sport  yielded,  it  stands  midway 
between  its  two  brethren.  It  Hves  in  a  land  of 
magnificent  timber,  where  the  trees  tower  far  into 
the  sky,  the  giants  of  their  kind;  and  there  are 
few  more  attractive  sports  than  still-hunting  on 
the  mountains,  among  these  forests  of  marvellous 
beauty  and  grandeur.  There  are  many  lakes 
among  the  mountains  where  it  dwells,  and  as  it 
cares  more  for  water  than  the  ordinary  blacktail, 
it  is  comparatively  easy  for  hounds  to  drive  it  into 
some  pond  where  it  can  be  killed  at  leisure.  It  is 
thus  often  killed  by  hounding. 

The  only  one  I  ever  killed  was  a  fine  young  buck. 
We  had  camped  near  a  little  pond,  and  as  evening 
fell  I  strolled  off  towards  it  and  sat  down.  Just 
after  sunset  the  buck  came  out  of  the  woods.  For 
some  moments  he  hesitated  and  then  walked  for- 
ward and  stood  by  the  edge  of  the  water,  about 
sixty  yards  from  me.  We  were  out  of  meat,  so 
I  held  right  behind  his  shoulder,  and  though  he 
went  off,  his  bounds  were  short  and  weak,  and  he 
fell  before  he  reached  the  wood. 


CHAPTER  IV 

ON   THE    CATTLE    RANGES;     THE    PRONGHORN 
ANTELOPE 

EARLY  one  June,  just  after  the  close  of 
the  regular  spring  round-up,  a  couple  of 
wagons,  with  a  score  of  riders  between 
them,  were  sent  to  work  some  hitherto  untouched 
country,  between  the  Little  Missouri  and  the  Yel- 
lowstone. I  was  to  go  as  the  representative  of 
our  own  and  of  one  or  two  neighboring  brands; 
but  as  the  round-up  had  halted  near  my  ranch 
I  determined  to  spend  a  day  there  and  then  to 
join  the  wagons; — the  appointed  meeting-place 
being  a  cluster  of  red  scoria  buttes,  some  forty 
miles  distant,  where  there  was  a  spring  of  good 
water. 

Most  of  my  day  at  the  ranch  was  spent  in  slum- 
ber; for  I  had  been  several  weeks  on  the  round- 
up, where  nobody  ever  gets  quite  enough  sleep. 
This  is  the  only  drawback  to  the  work ;  otherwise 
it  is  pleasant  and  exciting,  with  just  that  slight 
touch  of  danger  necessary  to  give  it  zest,  and  with- 
out the  wearing  fatigue  of  such  labor  as  lumber- 
ing or  mining.  But  there  is  never  enough  sleep, 
at  least  on  the  spring  and  midsummer  round-ups. 

65 


66  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

The  men  are  in  the  saddle  from  dawn  until  dusk 
at  the  time  when  the  days  are  longest  on  these 
great  northern  plains;  and  in  addition  there  is 
the  regular  night-guarding,  and  now  and  then  a 
furious  storm  or  a  stampede,  when  for  twenty- 
four  hours  at  a  stretch  the  riders  only  dismount 
to  change  horses  or  snatch  a  mouthful  of  food. 

I  started  in  the  bright  sunrise,  riding  one  horse 
and  driving  loose  before  me  eight  others,  one  car- 
rying my  bedding.  They  travelled  strung  out  in 
single  file.  I  kept  them  trotting  and  loping,  for 
loose  horses  are  easiest  to  handle  when  driven  at 
some  speed,  and,  moreover,  the  way  was  long. 
My  rifle  was  slung  under  my  thigh ;  the  lariat  was 
looped  on  the  saddle-horn. 

At  first  our  trail  led  through  winding  coulies 
and  sharp,  grassy  defiles ;  the  air  was  wonderfully 
clear,  the  flowers  were  in  bloom,  the  breath  of  the 
wind  in  my  face  was  odorous  and  sweet.  The  pat- 
ter and  beat  of  the  unshod  hoofs,  rising  in  half- 
rhythmic  measure,  frightened  the  scudding  deer; 
but  the  yellow-breasted  meadow  larks,  perched  on 
the  budding  tops  of  the  bushes,  sang  their  rich, 
full  songs  without  heeding  us  as  we  went  by. 

When  the  sun  was  well  on  high  and  the  heat 
of  the  day  had  begun,  we  came  to  a  dreary  and 
barren  plain,  broken  by  rows  of  low,  clay  buttes. 
The  ground  in  places  was  whitened  by  alkali; 
elsewhere   it   was   dull   gray.     Here   there   grew 


On  the  Cattle  Ranges  67 

nothing  save  sparse  tufts  of  coarse  grass  and  cac- 
tus and  sprawling  sage-brush.  In  the  hot  air  all 
things  seen  afar  danced  and  wavered.  As  I  rode 
and  gazed  at  the  shimmering  haze,  the  vast  deso- 
lation of  the  landscape  bore  on  me;  it  seemed  as 
if  the  unseen  and  unknown  powers  of  the  wastes 
were  moving  by  and  marshalling  their  silent 
forces.  No  man  save  the  wilderness  dweller 
knows  the  strong  melancholy  fascination  of  these 
long  rides  through  lonely  lands. 

At  noon,  that  the  horses  might  graze  and  drink 
I  halted  where  some  box-alders  grew  by  a  pool  in 
the  bed  of  a  half -dry  creek,  and  shifted  my  saddle 
to  a  fresh  beast.  When  we  started  again  we  came 
out  on  the  rolling  prairie,  where  the  green  sea  of 
wind-rippled  grass  stretched  limitless  as  far  as 
the  eye  could  reach.  Little  striped  gophers  scut- 
tled away,  or  stood  perfectly  straight  at  the 
mouths  of  their  burrows,  looking  like  picket -pins. 
Curlews  clamored  mournfully  as  they  circled  over- 
head. Prairie -fowl  swept  off,  clucking  and  call- 
ing, or  strutted  about  with  their  sharp  tails  erect. 
Antelope  were  very  plentiful,  running  like  race- 
horses across  the  level,  or  uttering  their  queer, 
barking  grunt  as  they  stood  at  gaze,  the  white 
hairs  on  their  rumps  all  on  end,  their  neck-bands 
of  broken  brown  and  white  vivid  in  the  sunlight. 
They  were  found  singly  or  in  small  straggling  par- 
ties ;  the  master  bucks  had  not  yet  begun  to  drive 


68  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

out  the  younger  and  weaker  ones  as  later  in  the 
season,  when  each  would  gather  into  a  herd  as 
many  does  as  his  jealous  strength  could  guard 
from  rivals.  The  nursing  does  whose  kids  had 
come  early  were  often  found  with  the  bands ;  the 
others  kept  apart.  The  kids  were  very  conspicu- 
ous figures  on  the  prairies,  across  which  they 
scudded  like  jack-rabbits,  showing  nearly  as  much 
speed  and  alertness  as  their  parents;  only  the 
very  young  sought  safety  by  lying  flat  to  escape 
notice. 

The  horses  cantered  and  trotted  steadily  over 
the  mat  of  buffalo  grass,  steering  for  the  group  of 
low  scoria  mounds  which  was  my  goal.  In  mid- 
afternoon  I  reached  it.  The  two  wagons  were 
drawn  up  near  the  spring;  under  them  lay  the 
night -wranglers,  asleep;  nearby,  the  teamster- 
cooks  were  busy  about  the  evening  meal.  A 
little  way  off,  the  two  day- wranglers  were  watch- 
ing the  horse-herd;  into  which  I  speedily  turned 
my  own  animals.  The  riders  had  already  driven 
in  the  bunches  of  cattle,  and  were  engaged  in 
branding  the  calves,  and  turning  loose  the  animals 
that  were  not  needed,  while  the  remainder  were 
kept,  forming  the  nucleus  of  the  herd  which  was 
to  accompany  the  wagon. 

As  soon  as  the  work  was  over  the  men  rode  to 
the  wagons :  sinewy  fellows,  with  tattered,  broad- 
brimmed  hats  and  clanking  spurs,  some  wearing 


On  the  Cattle  Ranges  69 

leather  shaps  or  leggings,  others  having  their 
trousers  tucked  into  their  high-heeled  top-boots, 
all  with  their  flannel  shirts  and  loose  neckerchiefs 
dusty  and  sweaty.  A  few  were  indulging  in 
rough,  good-natured  horse-play,  to  an  accompani- 
ment of  yelling  mirth ;  most  were  grave  and  taci- 
turn, greeting  me  with  a  silent  nod  or  a  "How! 
friend."  A  very  talkative  man,  unless  the  ac- 
knowledged wit  of  the  party,  according  to  the 
somewhat  florid  frontier  notion  of  wit,  is  always 
looked  on  with  disfavor  in  a  cow-camp.  After 
supper,  eaten  in  silent  haste,  we  gathered  round 
the  embers  of  the  small  fires,  and  the  conversa- 
tion glanced  fitfully  over  the  threadbare  subjects 
common  to  all  such  camps:  the  antics  of  some 
particularly  vicious  bucking  bronco,  how  the 
different  brands  of  cattle  were  showing  up,  the 
smallness  of  the  calf  drop,  the  respective  merits 
of  rawhide  lariats  and  grass  ropes,  and  bits  of 
rather  startling  and  violent  news  concerning  the 
fates  of  certain  neighbors.  Then  one  by  one  we 
began  to  turn  in  under  our  blankets. 

Our  wagon  was  to  furnish  the  night -guards  for 
the  cattle;  and  each  of  us  had  his  gentlest  horse 
tied  ready  to  hand.  The  night-guards  went  on 
duty  two  at  a  time  for  two-hour  watches.  By 
good  luck,  my  watch  came  last.  My  comrade  was 
a  happy-go-lucky  young  Texan,  who  for  some 
inscrutable  reason  was  known  as  "  Latigo  Strap"  ; 


70  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

he  had  just  come  from  the  south  with  a  big  drove 
of  trail  cattle. 

A  few  minutes  before  two,  one  of  the  guards  who 
had  gone  on  duty  at  midnight  rode  into  camp 
and  awakened  us  by  shaking  our  shoulders.  Fum- 
bling in  the  dark,  I  speedily  saddled  my  horse; 
Latigo  had  left  his  saddled,  and  he  started  ahead 
of  me.  One  of  the  annoyances  of  night-guarding, 
at  least  in  thick  weather,  is  the  occasional  diffi- 
culty of  finding  the  herd  after  leaving  camp,  or  in 
returning  to  camp  after  the  watch  is  over;  there 
are  few  things  more  exasperating  than  to  be  help- 
lessly wandering  about  in  the  dark  under  such 
circumstances.  However,  on  this  occasion  there 
was  no  such  trouble;  for  it  was  a  brilliant  star- 
light night  and  the  herd  had  been  bedded  down 
by  a  sugar-loaf  butte  which  made  a  good  land- 
mark. As  we  reached  the  spot  we  could  make  out 
the  loom  of  the  cattle  lying  close  together  on  the 
level  plain;  and  then  the  dim  figure  of  a  horse- 
man rose  vaguely  from  the  darkness  and  moved  by 
in  silence ;  it  was  the  other  of  the  two  midnight 
guards  on  his  way  back  to  his  broken  slumber. 

At  once  we  began  to  ride  slowly  round  the 
cattle  in  opposite  directions.  We  were  silent,  for 
the  night  was  clear,  and  the  herd  quiet;  in  wild 
weather,  when  the  cattle  are  restless,  the  cow- 
boys never  cease  calling  and  singing  as  they  circle 
them,  for  the  sounds  seem  to  quiet  the  beasts. 


On  the  Cattle  Ranges  71 

For  over  an  hour  we  steadily  paced  the  endless 
round,  saying  nothing,  with  our  greatcoats  but- 
toned, for  the  air  is  chill  towards  morning  on 
the  noi"thern  plains,  even  in  summer.  Then  faint 
streaks  of  gray  appeared  in  the  east.  Latigo 
Strap  began  to  call  merrily  to  the  cattle.  A  coy- 
ote came  sneaking  over  the  butte  nearby  and 
halted  to  yell  and  wail ;  afterwards  he  crossed  the 
coulie  and  from  the  hillside  opposite  again  shrieked 
in  dismal  crescendo.  The  dawn  brightened  rap- 
idly ;  the  little  skylarks  of  the  plains  began  to  sing, 
soaring  far  overhead,  while  it  was  still  much  too 
dark  to  see  them.  Their  song  is  not  powerful, 
but  it  is  so  clear  and  fresh  and  long-continued 
that  it  always  appeals  to  one  very  strongly ;  es- 
pecially because  it  is  most  often  heard  in  the 
rose-tinted  air  of  the  glorious  mornings,  while 
the  listener  sits  in  the  saddle,  looking  across  the 
endless  sweep  of  the  prairies. 

As  it  grew  lighter  the  cattle  became  restless, 
rising  and  stretching  themselves,  while  we  con- 
tinued to  ride  round  them. 

"  Then  the  bronc'  began  to  pitch 
And  I  began  to  ride; 
He  bucked  me  off  a  cut  bank, 
Hell!  I  nearly  died!" 

sang  Latigo  from  the  other  side  of  the  herd,  A 
yell  from  the  wagons  told  that  the  cook  was  sum- 
moning the  sleeping  cow-punchers  to  breakfast; 


72  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

we  were  soon  able  to  distinguish  their  figures  as 
they  rolled  out  of  their  bedding,  wrapped  and 
corded  it  into  bundles,  and  huddled  sullenly  round 
the  little  fires.  The  horse-wranglers  were  driving 
in  the  saddle  bands.  All  the  cattle  got  on  their 
feet  and  started  feeding.  In  a  few  minutes  the 
hasty  breakfast  at  the  wagons  had  evidently  been 
despatched,  for  we  could  see  the  men  forming  rope 
corrals  into  which  the  ponies  were  driven;  then 
each  man  saddled,  bridled,  and  mounted  his 
horse,  two  or  three  of  the  half -broken  beasts 
bucking,  rearing,  and  plunging  frantically  in  the 
vain  effort  to  unseat  their  riders. 

The  two  men  who  were  first  in  the  saddle  re- 
lieved Latigo  and  myself,  and  we  immediately 
galloped  to  camp,  shifted  our  saddles  to  fresh  ani- 
mals, gulped  down  a  cup  or  two  of  hot  coffee,  and 
some  pork,  beans,  and  bread,  and  rode  to  the  spot 
where  the  others  were  gathered,  lolling  loosely  in 
their  saddles  and  waiting  for  the  round-up  boss 
to  assign  them  their  tasks.  We  were  the  last,  and 
as  soon  as  we  arrived  the  boss  divided  all  into  two 
parties  for  the  morning  work,  or  "circle  riding," 
whereby  the  cattle  were  to  be  gathered  for  the 
round-up  proper.  Then,  as  the  others  started,  he 
turned  to  me  and  remarked:  "We've  got  enough 
hands  to  drive  this  open  country  without  you; 
but  we're  out  of  meat,  and  I  don't  want  to  kill  a 
beef  for  such  a  small  outfit ;  can't  you  shoot  some 


The  Pronghorn  Antelope  73 

antelope  this  morning?  We'll  pitch  camp  by  the 
big,  blasted  cottonwood  at  the  foot  of  the  ash 
coulies  over  yonder,  below  the  breaks  of  Dry 
Creek." 

Of  course  I  gladly  assented,  and  was  speedily 
riding  alone  across  the  grassy  slopes.  There  was 
no  lack  of  the  game  I  was  after,  for  from  every 
rise  of  ground  I  could  see  antelope  scattered 
across  the  prairie — singly,  in  couples,  or  in  bands. 
But  their  very  numbers,  joined  to  the  lack  of 
cover  on  such  an  open,  flattish  country,  proved  a 
bar  to  success;  while  I  was  stalking  one  band 
another  was  sure  to  see  me  and  begin  running, 
whereat  the  first  would  likewise  start;  I  missed 
one  or  two  very  long  shots,  and  noon  found  me 
still  without  game. 

However,  I  was  then  lucky  enough  to  see  a 
band  of  a  dozen  feeding  to  windward  of  a  small 
butte,  and  by  galloping  in  a  long  circle  I  got 
within  a  quarter  of  a  mile  of  them  before  having 
to  dismount.  The  stalk  itself  was  almost  too  easy, 
for  I  simply  walked  to  the  butte,  climbed  carefully 
up  a  slope  where  the  soil  was  firm  and  peered  over 
the  top,  to  see  the  herd-^a  little  one — a  hundred 
yards  off.  They  saw  me  at  once  and  ran,  but  I 
held  well  ahead  of  a  fine  young  prongbuck,  and 
rolled  him  over  like  a  rabbit,  with  both  shoulders 
broken.  In  a  few  minutes  I  was  riding  onwards 
once  more,  with  the  buck  lashed  behind  my  saddle. 


74  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

The  next  one  I  got,  a  couple  of  hours  later, 
offered  a  much  more  puzzling  stalk.  He  was  a 
big  fellow,  in  company  with  four  does  or  small 
bucks.  All  five  were  lying  in  the  middle  of  a 
slight  basin,  at  the  head  of  a  gentle  valley.  At 
first  sight  it  seemed  impossible  to  get  near  them, 
for  there  was  not  so  much  cover  as  a  sage-brush, 
and  the  smooth,  shallow  basin  in  which  they  lay 
was  over  a  thousand  yards  across,  while  they  were 
looking  directly  down  the  valley.  However,  it  is 
curious  how  hard  it  is  to  tell,  even  from  nearby, 
whether  a  stalk  can  or  cannot  be  made ;  the  diffi- 
culty being  to  estimate  the  exact  amount  of  shel- 
ter yielded  by  little  inequalities  of  ground.  In 
this  instance  a  small,  shallow  watercourse,  entirely 
dry,  ran  along  the  valley,  and  after  much  study 
I  decided  to  try  to  crawl  up  it,  although  the  big, 
bulging,  telescopic  eyes  of  the  prongbuck — which 
have  much  keener  sight  than  deer  or  any  other 
game — would  in  such  case  be  pointed  directly  my 
way. 

Having  made  up  my  mind,  I  backed  cautiously 
down  from  the  coign  of  vantage  whence  I  had  first 
seen  the  game,  and  ran  about  a  mile  to  the  mouth 
of  a  washout  which  formed  the  continuation  of 
the  watercourse  in  question.  Protected  by  the 
high  clay  banks  of  this  washout,  I  was  able  to 
walk  upright  until  within  half  a  mile  of  the  prong- 
bucks  ;  then  my  progress  became  very  tedious  and 


The  Pronghorn  Antelope  75 

toilsome,  as  I  had  to  work  my  way  up  the  water- 
course fiat  on  my  stomach,  dragging  the  rifle  be- 
side me.  At  last  I  reached  a  spot  beyond  which 
not  even  a  snake  could  crawl  unnoticed.  In  front 
was  a  low  bank,  a  couple  of  feet  high,  crested  with 
tufts  of  coarse  grass.  Raising  my  head  very  cau- 
tiously, I  peered  through  these  aiid  saw  the  prong- 
horn  about  a  hundred  and  fifty  yards  distant. 
At  the  same  time  I  found  that  I  had  crawled  to 
the  edge  of  a  village  of  prairie-dogs,  which  had 
already  made  me  aware  of  their  presence  by  their 
shrill  yelping.  They  saw  me  at  once,  and  all 
those  away  from  their  homes  scuttled  towards 
them  and  dived  down  the  burrows,  or  sat  on  the 
mounds  at  the  entrances,  scolding  convulsively 
and  jerking  their  fat  little  bodies  and  short  tails. 
This  commotion  at  once  attracted  the  attention  of 
the  antelope.  They  rose  forthwith,  and  imme- 
diately caught  a  glimpse  of  the  black  muzzle  of 
the  rifle  which  I  was  gently  pushing  through  the 
grass  tufts.  The  fatal  curiosity  which  so  often  in 
this  species  offsets  wariness  and  sharp  sight, 
proved  my  friend;  evidently  the  antelope  could 
not  quite  make  me  out  and  wished  to  know  what 
I  was.  They  moved  nervously  to  and  fro,  strik- 
ing the  earth  with  their  fore  hoofs  and  now  and 
then  uttering  a  sudden  bleat.  At  last  the  big 
buck  stood  still,  broadside  to  me,  and  I  fired.  He 
went  off  with  the  others,  but  lagged  behind  as 


7^  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

they  passed  over  the  hill  crest,  and  when  I  reached 
it  I  saw  him  standing,  not  very  far  off,  with  his 
head  down.  Then  he  walked  backwards  a  few 
steps,  fell  over  on  his  side,  and  died. 

As  he  was  a  big  buck,  I  slung  him  across  the 
saddle  and  started  for  camp  afoot,  leading  the 
horse.  However^  ray  hunt  was  not  over,  for  while 
still  a  mile  from  the  wagons,  going  down  a  coulie 
of  Dry  Creek,  a  yearling  prongbuck  walked  over 
the  divide  to  my  right  and  stood  still  until  I 
sent  a  bullet  into  its  chest ;  so  that  I  made  my 
appearance  in  camp  with  three  antelope. 

I  spoke  above  of  the  sweet  singing  of  the  west- 
ern meadow  lark  and  plains  skylark;  neither  of 
them  kin  to  the  true  skylark,  by  the  way,  one 
being  a  cousin  of  the  grakles  and  hangbirds,  and 
the  other  a  kind  of  pipit.  To  me  both  of  these 
birds  are  among  the  most  attractive  singers  to 
which  I  have  ever  listened;  but  with  all  bird 
music  much  must  be  allowed  for  the  surroundings 
and  much  for  the  mood,  and  the  keenness  of  sense, 
of  the  listener.  The  lilt  of  the  little  plains  sky- 
lark is  neither  very  powerful  nor  very  melodious ; 
but  it  is  sweet,  pure,  long-sustained,  with  a  ring 
of  courage  befitting  a  song  uttered  in  highest 
air. 

The  meadow  lark  is  a  singer  of  a  higher  order, 
deserving  to  rank  with  the  best.  Its  song  has 
length,   variety,   power,   and  rich  melody;    and 


The  Pronghorn  Antelope  "j^ 

there  is  in  it  sometimes  a  cadence  of  wild  sadness, 
inexpressibly  touching.  Yet  I  cannot  say  that 
either  song  would  appeal  to  others  as  it  appeals 
to  me;  for  to  me  it  comes  forever  laden  with  a 
hundred  memories  and  associations;  with  the 
sight  of  dim  hills  reddening  in  the  dawn,  with  the 
breath  of  cool  morning  winds  blowing  across  lonely 
plains,  with  the  scent  of  flowers  on  the  sunlit 
prairie,  with  the  motion  of  fiery  horses,  with  all 
the  strong  thrill  of  eager  and  buoyant  life.  I 
doubt  if  any  man  can  judge  dispassionately  the 
bird  songs  of  his  own  country;  he  cannot  dis- 
associate them  from  the  sights  and  sounds  of  the 
land  that  is  so  dear  to  him. 

This  is  not  a  feeling  to  regret,  but  it  must  be 
taken  into  account  in  accepting  any  estimate  of 
bird  music — even  in  considering  the  reputation  of 
the  European  skylark  and  nightingale.  To  both 
of  these  birds  I  have  often  listened  in  their  own 
homes ;  always  with  pleasure  and  admiration,  but 
always  with  a  growing  belief  that,  relatively  to 
some  other  birds,  they  were  ranked  too  high. 
They  are  pre-eminently  birds  with  literary  asso- 
ciations ;  most  people  take  their  opinions  of  them 
at  second  hand,  from  the  poets. 

No  one  can  help  liking  the  lark;  it  is  such  a 
brave,  honest,  cheery  bird,  and,  moreover,  its 
song  is  uttered  in  the  air,  and  is  very  long  sus- 
tained.    But  it  is  by  no  means  a  musician  of  the 


78  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

first  rank.  The  nightingale  is  a  performer  of  a 
very  different  and  far  higher  order ;  yet,  though  it 
is  indeed  a  notable  and  admirable  singer,  it  is  an 
exaggeration  to  call  it  unequalled.  In  melody, 
and,  above  all,  in  that  finer,  higher  melody  where 
the  chords  vibrate  with  the  touch  of  eternal  sor- 
row, it  cannot  rank  with  such  singers  as  the  wood 
thrush  and  hermit  thrush.  The  serene,  ethereal, 
beauty  of  the  hermit's  song,  rising  and  falling 
through  the  still  evening,  under  the  archways  of 
hoary  mountain  forests  that  have  endured  from 
time  everlasting;  the  golden,  leisurely  chiming  of 
the  wood  thrush,  sounding  on  June  afternoons, 
stanza  by  stanza,  through  sun-flecked  groves  of 
tall  hickories,  oaks,  and  chestnuts — with  these 
there  is  nothing  in  the  nightingale's  song  to  com- 
pare. But  in  volume  and  continuity,  in  tuneful, 
voluble,  rapid  outpouring  and  ardor,  above  all  in 
skilful  and  intricate  variation  of  theme,  its  song 
far  surpasses  that  of  either  of  the  thrushes.  In 
all  these  respects,  it  is  more  just  to  compare  it  with 
the  mocking-bird's,  which,  as  a  rule,  likewise  falls 
short  precisely  on  those  points  where  the  songs  of 
the  two  thrushes  excel. 

The  mocking-bird  is  a  singer  that  has  suffered 
much  in  reputation  from  its  powers  of  mimicry. 
On  ordinary  occasions,  and  especially  in  the  day- 
time, it  insists  on  playing  the  harlequin.  But 
when  free  in  its  own  favorite  haunts  at  night  in 


The  Pronghorn  Antelope  79 

the  love  season,  it  has  a  song,  or  rather  songs, 
which  are  not  only  purely  original,  but  are  also 
more  beautiful  than  any  other  bird  music  what- 
soever. Once  I  listened  to  a  mocking-bird  sing- 
ing the  livelong  spring  night,  under  the  full  moon, 
in  a  magnolia  tree ;  and  I  do  not  think  I  shall  ever 
forget  its  song. 

It  was  on  the  plantation  of  Major  Campbell 
Brown,  near  Nashville,  in  the  beautiful,  fertile 
mid-Tennessee  country.  The  mocking-birds  were 
prime  favorites  on  the  place ;  and  were  given  full 
scope  for  the  development,  not  only  of  their  bold 
friendliness  towards  mankind,  but  also  of  that 
marked  individuality  and  originality  of  character 
in  which  they  so  far  surpass  every  other  bird  as  to 
become  the  most  interesting  of  all  feathered  folk. 
One  of  the  mockers,  which  lived  in  the  hedge  bor- 
dering the  garden,  was  constantly  engaged  in  an 
amusing  feud  with  an  honest  old  setter  dog,  the 
point  of  attack  being  the  tip  of  the  dog's  tail. 
For  some  reason  the  bird  seemed  to  regard  any 
hoisting  of  the  setter's  tail  as  a  challenge  and  in- 
sult. It  would  flutter  near  the  dog  as  he  walked ; 
the  old  setter  would  become  interested  in  some- 
thing and  raise  his  tail.  The  bird  would  promptly 
fly  at  it  and  peck  the  tip ;  whereupon  down  went 
the  tail,  until  in  a  couple  of  minutes  the  old  fellow 
would  forget  himself,  and  the  scene  would  be 
repeated.     The  dog  usually  bore  the  assaults  with 


8o  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

comic  resignation ;  and  the  mocker  easily  avoided 
any  momentary  outburst  of  clumsy  resentment. 

On  the  evening  in  question  the  moon  was  full. 
My  host  kindly  assigned  me  a  room  of  which  the 
windows  opened  on  a  great  magnolia  tree,  where, 
I  was  told,  a  mocking-bird  sang  every  night  and 
all  night  long.  I  went  to  my  room  about  ten. 
The  moonlight  was  shining  in  through  the  open 
window,  and  the  mocking-bird  was  already  in  the 
magnolia.  The  great  tree  was  bathed  in  a  flood 
of  shining  silver ;  I  could  see  each  twig  and  mark 
every  action  of  the  singer,  who  was  pouring  forth 
such  a  rapture  of  ringing  melody  as  I  have  never 
listened  to  before  or  since.  Sometimes  he  would 
perch  motionless  for  many  minutes,  his  body  quiv- 
ering and  thrilling  with  the  outpour  of  music. 
Then  he  would  drop  softly  from  twig  to  twig, 
until  the  lowest  limb  was  reached,  when  he  would 
rise,  fluttering  and  leaping  through  the  branches, 
his  song  never  ceasing  for  an  instant,  until  he 
reached  the  summit  of  the  tree  and  launched  into 
the  warm,  scent -laden  air,  floating  in  spirals,  with 
outspread  wings,  until,  as  if  spent,  he  sank  gently 
back  into  the  tree  and  down  through  the  branches, 
while  his  song  rose  into  an  ecstasy  of  ardor  and 
passion.  His  voice  rang  like  a  clarionet,  in  rich, 
full  tones,  and  his  execution  covered  the  widest 
possible  compass;  theme  followed  theme,  a  tor- 
rent of  music,  a  swelling  tide  of  harmony,  in  which 


The  Pronghorn  Antelope  8i 

scarcely  any  two  bars  were  alike.  I  stayed  till 
midnight  listening  to  him ;  he  was  singing  when  I 
went  to  sleep;  he  was  still  singing  when  I  woke 
a  couple  of  hours  later ;  he  sang  through  the  live- 
long night. 

There  are  many  singers  beside  the  meadow  lark 
and  little  skylark  in  the  plains  country — that 
brown  and  desolate  land,  once  the  home  of  the 
thronging  buffalo,  still  haunted  by  the  bands  of 
the  prongbuck,  and  roamed  over  in  ever-increas- 
ing numbers  by  the  branded  herds  of  the  ranch- 
man. In  the  brush  of  the  river  bottoms  there 
are  the  thrasher  and  song  sparrow ;  on  the  grassy 
uplands  the  lark  finch,  vesper  sparrow,  and  lark 
bunting ;  and  in  the  rough  canyons  the  rock  wren, 
with  its  ringing  melody. 

Yet  in  certain  moods  a  man  cares  less  for  even 
the  loveliest  bird  songs  than  for  the  wilder, 
harsher,  stronger  sounds  of  the  wilderness;  the 
guttural  booming  and  clucking  of  the  prairie-fowl 
and  the  great  sage-fowl  in  spring ;  the  honking  of 
gangs  of  wild  geese,  as  they  fly  in  rapid  wedges; 
the  bark  of  an  eagle,  wheeling  in  the  shadow  of 
storm-scarred  cliffs;  or  the  far-off  clanging  of 
many  sandhill  cranes,  soaring  high  overhead  in 
circles  which  cross  and  recross  at  an  incredible 
altitude.  Wilder  yet,  and  stranger,  are  the  cries 
of  the  great  four-footed  beasts;  the  rhythmic 
pealing  of  a  bull-elk's  challenge;    and  that  most 

6 


82  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

sinister  and  mournful  sound,  ever  fraught  with 
foreboding  of  murder  and  rapine,  the  long-drawn 
baying  of  the  gray  wolf. 

Indeed,  save  to  the  trained  ear,  most  mere 
bird  songs  are  not  very  noticeable.  The  ordinary 
wilderness  dweller,  whether  hunter  or  cowboy, 
scarcely  heeds  them ;  and,  in  fact,  knows  but  little 
of  the  smaller  birds.  If  a  bird  has  some  conspicu- 
ous peculiarity  of  look  or  habit  he  will  notice  its 
existence ;  but  not  otherwise.  He  knows  a  good 
deal  about  magpies,  whisky-jacks,  or  water- 
ousels;  but  nothing  whatever  concerning  the 
thrushes,  finches,  and  warblers. 

It  is  the  same  with  mammals.  The  prairie-dogs 
he  cannot  help  noticing.  With  the  big  pack-rats 
also  he  is  well  acquainted;  for  they  are  hand- 
some, with  soft  gray  fur,  large  eyes,  and  bushy 
tails;  and,  moreover,  no  one  can  avoid  remark- 
ing their  extraordinary  habit  of  carrying  to  their 
burrows  everything  bright,  useless,  and  portable, 
from  an  empty  cartridge  case  to  a  skinning-knife. 
But  he  knows  nothing  of  mice,  shrews,  pocket- 
gophers,  or  weasels;  and  but  little  even  of  some 
larger  mammals  with  very  marked  characteris- 
tics. Thus  I  have  met  but  one  or  two  plainsmen 
who  knew  anything  of  the  curious  plains  ferret, 
that  rather  rare  weasel-like  animal,  which  plays 
the  same  part  on  the  plains  that  the  mink  does 
by  the  edges  of  all  our  streams  and  brooks,  and 


The  Pronghorn  Antelope  S^ 

the  tree-loving  sable  in  the  cold  northern  forests. 
The  ferret  makes  its  home  in  burrows,  and  by 
preference  goes  abroad  at  dawn  and  dusk,  but 
sometimes  even  at  midday.  It  is  as  blood- 
thirsty as  the  mink  itself,  and  its  life  is  one  long 
ramble  for  prey — gophers,  prairie-dogs,  sage-rab- 
bits, jack-rabbits,  snakes,  and  every  kind  of 
ground  bird  furnishing  its  food.  I  have  known 
one  to  fairly  depopulate  a  prairie-dog  town,  it 
being  the  arch  foe  of  these  little  rodents,  because 
of  its  insatiable  blood  lust  and  its  capacity  to  fol- 
low them  into  their  burrows.  Once  I  found  the 
bloody  body  and  broken  eggs  of  a  poor  prairie- 
hen  which  a  ferret  had  evidently  surprised  on  her 
nest.  Another  time  one  of  my  men  was  eye-wit- 
ness to  a  more  remarkable  instance  of  the  little 
animal's  bloodthirsty  ferocity.  He  was  riding 
the  range,  and,  being  attracted  by  a  slight  com- 
motion in  a  clump  of  grass,  he  turned  his  horse 
thither  to  look,  and  to  his  astonishment  found  an 
antelope  fawn  at  the  last  gasp,  but  still  feebly 
struggling  in  the  grasp  of  a  ferret,  which  had 
throttled  it  and  was  sucking  its  blood  with  hideous 
greediness.  He  avenged  the  murdered  innocent 
by  a  dexterous  blow  with  the  knotted  end  of  his 
lariat. 

That  mighty  bird  of  rapine,  the  war-eagle, 
which  on  the  great  plains  and  among  the  Rockies 
supplants  the  bald-headed  eagle  of  better- watered 


84  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

regions,  is  another  dangerous  foe  of  the  young 
antelope.  It  is  even  said  that  under  exceptional 
circumstances  eagles  will  assail  a  full-grown  prong- 
horn;  and  a  neighboring  ranchman  informs  me 
that  he  was  once  an  eye-witness  to  such  an  attack. 
It  was  a  bleak  day  in  the  late  winter,  and  he  was 
riding  home  across  a  wide,  dreary  plateau,  when 
he  saw  two  eagles  worrying  and  pouncing  on  a 
prongbuck — seemingly  a  yearling.  It  made  a 
gallant  fight.  The  eagles  hovered  over  it  with 
spread  wings,  now  and  then  swooping  down,  their 
talons  out-thrust,  to  strike  at  the  head,  or  to  try 
to  settle  on  the  loins.  The  antelope  reared  and 
struck  with  hoofs  and  horns  like  a  goat;  but  its 
strength  was  failing  rapidly,  and  doubtless  it 
would  have  succumbed  in  the  end  had  not  the 
approach  of  the  ranchman  driven  off  the  marau- 
ders. 

I  have  likewise  heard  stories  of  eagles  attack- 
ing badgers,  foxes,  bob-cats,  and  coyotes;  but  I 
am  inclined  to  think  all  such  cases  exceptional. 
I  have  never  myself  seen  an  eagle  assail  anything 
bigger  than  a  fawn,  lamb,  kid,  or  jack-rabbit.  It 
also  swoops  at  geese,  sage-fowl,  and  prairie-fowl. 
On  one  occasion,  while  riding  over  the  range,  I 
witnessed  an  attack  on  a  jack-rabbit.  The  eagle 
was  soaring  overhead,  and  espied  the  jack  while 
the  latter  was  crouched  motionless.  Instantly  the 
great  bird  rushed  down  through  the  humming  air, 


The  Pronghorn  Antelope  85 

with  closed  wings ;  checked  itself  when  some  forty 
yards  above  the  jack,  hovered  for  a  moment,  and 
again  fell  like  a  bolt.  Away  went  long-ears,  run- 
ning as  only  a  frightened  jack  can ;  and  after  him 
the  eagle,  not  with  the  arrowy  rush  of  its  descent 
from  high  air,  but  with  eager,  hurried  flapping. 
In  a  short  time  it  had  nearly  overtaken  the  fugi- 
tive, when  the  latter  dodged  sharply  to  one  side, 
and  the  eagle  overshot  it  precisely  as  a  grey- 
hound would  have  done,  stopping  itself  by  a  pow- 
erful, setting  motion  of  the  great  pinions.  Twice 
this  manoeuvre  was  repeated;  then  the  eagle 
made  a  quick  rush,  caught,  and  overthrew  the 
quarry  before  it  could  turn,  and  in  another  mo- 
ment was  sitting  triumphant  on  the  quivering 
body,  the  crooked  talons  driven  deep  into  the 
soft,  furry  sides. 

Once,  while  hunting  mountain  sheep  in  the  Bad 
Lands,  I  killed  an  eagle  on  the  wing  with  the  rifle. 
I  was  walking  beneath  a  cliff  of  gray  clay,  when 
the  eagle  sailed  into  view  over  the  crest.  As  soon 
as  he  saw  me  he  threw  his  wings  aback,  and  for  a 
moment  before  wheeling  poised  motionless,  offer- 
ing a  nearly  stationary  target ;  so  that  my  bullet 
grazed  his  shoulder,  and  down  he  came  through 
the  air,  tumbling  over  and  over.  As  he  struck  the 
ground  he  threw  himself  on  his  back,  and  fought 
against  his  death  with  the  undaunted  courage 
proper  to  his  brave  and  cruel  nature. 


86  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

Indians  greatly  prize  the  feathers  of  this  eagle. 
With  them  they  make  their  striking  and  beautiful 
war  bonnets,  and  bedeck  the  manes  and  tails  of 
their  spirited  war  ponies.  Every  year  the  Gros- 
ventres  and  Mandans  from  the  Big  Missouri  come 
to  the  neighborhood  of  my  ranch  to  hunt.  Though 
not  good  marksmen,  they  kill  many  whitetail  deer, 
driving  the  bottoms  for  them  in  bands,  on  horse- 
back; and  they  catch  many  eagles.  Sometimes 
they  take  these  alive  by  exposing  a  bait  near 
which  a  hole  is  dug,  where  one  of  them  lies  hidden 
for  days,  with  Indian  patience,  until  an  eagle 
lights  on  the  bait  and  is  noosed. 

Even  eagles  are  far  less  dangerous  enemies  to 
antelope  than  are  wolves  and  coyotes.  These 
beasts  are  always  prowling  round  the  bands  to 
snap  up  the  sick  or  unwary;  and  in  spring  they 
revel  in  carnage  of  the  kids  and  fawns.  They  are 
not  swift  enough  to  overtake  the  grown  animals 
by  sheer  speed ;  but  they  are  superior  in  endurance, 
and,  especially  in  winter,  often  run  them  down  in 
fair  chase.  A  prongbuck  is  a  plucky  little  beast, 
and  when  cornered  it  often  makes  a  gallant, 
though  not  a  very  effectual,  fight. 


CHAPTER  V 

HUNTING   THE    PRONGBUCK ;     FROST,    FIRE, 
AND    THIRST 

AS  with  all  other  American  game,  man  is  a 
worse  foe  to  the  pronghorns  than  all 
their  brute  enemies  combined.  They 
hold  their  own  much  better  than  the  bigger  game ; 
on  the  whole  even  better  than  the  blacktail ;  but 
their  numbers  have  been  wofully  thinned,  and  in 
many  places  they  have  been  completely  exter- 
minated. The  most  exciting  method  of  chasing 
them  is  on  horseback  with  greyhounds ;  but  they 
are  usually  killed  with  the  rifle.  Owing  to  the 
open  nature  of  the  ground  they  frequent,  the  shots 
must  generally  be  taken  at  long  range;  hence 
this  kind  of  hunting  is  pre-eminently  that  need- 
ing judgment  of  distance  and  skill  in  the  use  of 
the  long-range  rifle  at  stationary  objects.  On  the 
other  hand  the  antelope  are  easily  seen,  making 
no  effort  to  escape  observation,  as  deer  do,  and 
are  so  curious  that  in  very  wild  districts  to  this 
day  they  can  sometimes  be  tolled  within  rifle- 
shot by  the  judicious  waving  of  a  red  flag.  In 
consequence,  a  good  many  very  long,  but  tempt- 
ing, shots  can  be  obtained.     More  cartridges  are 

87 


88  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

used,  relatively  to  the  amount  of  game  killed,  on 
antelope  than  in  any  other  hunting. 

Often  I  have  killed  prongbucks  while  riding 
between  the  outlying  line  camps,  which  are  usu- 
ally stationed  a  dozen  miles  or  so  back  from  the 
river,  where  the  Bad  Lands  melt  into  the  prairie. 
In  continually  trying  long  shots,  of  course  one 
occasionally  makes  a  remarkable  hit.  Once,  I  re- 
member, while  riding  down  a  broad,  shallow  cou- 
lie  with  two  of  my  cow-hands, — Sea  well  and  Dow, 
both  keen  hunters  and  among  the  staunchest 
friends  I  have  ever  had, — rousing  a  band  of  ante- 
lope which  stood  irresolute  at  about  a  hundred 
yards  until  I  killed  one.  Then  they  dashed  off, 
and  I  missed  one  shot,  but  with  my  next,  to  my 
own  utter  astonishment,  killed  the  last  of  the 
band,  a  big  buck,  just  as  he  topped  a  rise  four 
hundred  yards  away.  To  offset  such  shots  I  have 
occasionally  made  an  unaccountable  miss.  Once 
I  was  hunting  with  the  same  two  men,  on  a  rainy 
day,  when  we  came  on  a  bunch  of  antelope  some 
seventy  yards  off,  lying  down  on  the  side  of  a 
coulie,  to  escape  the  storm.  They  huddled  to- 
gether a  moment  to  gaze,  and,  with  stiffened 
fingers  I  took  a  shot,  my  yellow  oilskin  slicker 
flapping  around  me  in  the  wind  and  rain.  Down 
went  one  buck,  and  away  went  the  others.  One 
of  my  men  walked  up  to  the  fallen  beast,  bent 
over  it,  and  then  asked:  ''Where  did  you  aim?" 


Hunting  the  Prongbuck  89 

Not  reassured  by  the  question,  I  answered  doubt- 
fully: "Behind  the  shoulder."  Whereat  he  re- 
marked drily:  "Well,  you  hit  it  in  the  eye!" 
I  never  did  know  whether  I  killed  the  antelope  I 
aimed  at  or  another.  Yet  that  same  day  I  killed 
three  more  bucks  at  decidedly  long  shots ;  at  the 
time  we  lacked  meat  at  the  ranch,  and  were  out 
to  make  a  good  killing. 

Besides  their  brute  and  human  foes,  the  prong- 
horn  must  also  fear  the  elements,  and  especially 
the  snows  of  winter.  On  the  northern  plains  the 
cold  weather  is  of  polar  severity,  and  turns  the 
green,  grassy  prairies  of  midsummer  into  iron- 
bound  wastes.  The  blizzards  whirl  and  sweep 
across  them  with  a  shrieking  fury  which  few  liv- 
ing things  may  face.  The  snow  is  like  fine  ice- 
dust,  and  the  white  waves  glide  across  the  grass 
with  a  stealthy,  crawling  motion  which  has  in  it 
something  sinister  and  cruel.  Accordingly,  as  the 
bright  fall  weather  passes,  and  the  dreary  winter 
draws  nigh,  when  the  days  shorten,  and  the 
nights  seem  interminable,  and  gray  storms  lower 
above  the  gray  horizon,  the  antelope  gather  in 
bands  and  seek  sheltered  places,  where  they  may 
abide  through  the  winter-time  of  famine  and  cold 
and  deep  snow.  Some  of  these  bands  travel  for 
many  hundred  miles,  going  and  returning  over 
the  same  routes,  swimming  rivers,  crossing  prai- 
ries, and  threading  their  way  through  steep  defiles. 


90  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

Such  bands  make  their  winter  home  in  the  Black 
Hills,  or  similar  mountainous  regions,  where  the 
shelter  and  feed  are  good,  and  where,  in  conse- 
quence, antelope  have  wintered  in  countless 
thousands  for  untold  generations.  Other  bands 
do  not  travel  for  any  very  great  distance,  but 
seek  some  sheltered  grassy  table-land  in  the 
Bad  Lands,  or  some  well-shielded  valley,  where 
their  instinct  and  experience  teach  them  that  the 
snow  does  not  lie  deep  in  winter.  Once  having 
chosen  such  a  place  they  stand  much  persecution 
before  leaving  it. 

One  December,  an  old  hunter  whom  I  knew 
told  me  that  such  a  band  was  wintering  a  few 
miles  from  a  camp  where  two  line-riders  of  the 
W  Bar  brand  were  stationed ;  and  I  made  up  my 
mind  to  ride  thither  and  kill  a  couple.  The  line 
camp  was  twenty  miles  from  my  ranch;  the 
shack  in  which  the  old  hunter  lived  was  midway 
between,  and  I  had  to  stop  there  to  find  out  the 
exact  lay  of  the  land. 

At  dawn,  before  our  early  breakfast,  I  saddled 
a  tough,  shaggy  sorrel  horse;  hastening  indoors 
as  soon  as  the  job  was  over  to  warm  my  numbed 
fingers.  After  breakfast  I  started,  muffled  in  my 
wolfskin  coat,  with  beaver-fur  cap,  gloves,  and 
shaps,  and  great  felt  overshoes.  The  windless 
air  was  bitter  cold,  the  thermometer  showing  well 
below  zero.     Snow  lay  on  the  ground,   leaving 


Hunting  the  Prongbuck  91 

bare  patches  here  and  there,  but  drifted  deep  in 
the  hollows.  Under  the  steel-blue  heavens  the 
atmosphere  had  a  peculiar  glint,  as  if  filled  with 
myriads  of  tiny  crystals.  As  I  crossed  the  frozen 
river,  immediately  in  front  of  the  ranch-house, 
the  strangely  carved  tops  of  the  bluffs  were  red- 
dening palely  in  the  winter  sunrise.  Prairie-fowl 
were  perched  in  the  bare  cottonwoods  along  the 
river  brink,  showing  large  in  the  leafless  branches ; 
they  called  and  clucked  to  one  another. 

Where  the  ground  was  level  and  the  snow  not 
too  deep  I  loped,  and  before  noon  I  reached  the 
sheltered  coulie  where,  with  long  poles  and  bark, 
the  hunter  had  built  his  tepee — wigwam,  as  eastern 
woodsmen  would  have  called  it.  It  stood  in  a 
loose  grove  of  elms  and  box-alders;  from  the 
branches  of  the  nearest  trees  hung  saddles  of 
frozen  venison.  The  smoke  rising  from  the  fun- 
nel-shaped top  of  the  tepee  showed  that  there  was 
more  fire  than  usual  within;  it  is  easy  to  keep  a 
good  tepee  warm,  though  it  is  so  smoky  that  no 
one  therein  can  stand  upright.  As  I  drew  rein  the 
skin  door  was  pushed  aside,  and  the  hard  old  face 
and  dried,  battered  body  of  the  hunter  appeared. 
He  greeted  me  with  a  surly  nod,  and  a  brief  re- 
quest to  ''light  and  hev  somethin'  to  eat" — the 
invariable  proffer  of  hospitality  on  the  plains. 
He  wore  a  greasy  buckskin  shirt  or  tunic,  and 
an  odd  cap  of  badger-skin,  from  beneath  which 


92  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

strayed  his  tangled  hair;  age,  rheumatism,  and 
the  many  accidents  and  incredible  fatigue,  hard- 
ship, and  exposure  of  his  past  life  had  crippled 
him,  yet  he  still  possessed  great  power  of  endur- 
ance, and  in  his  seamed,  weather-scarred  face  his 
eyes  burned  fierce  and  piercing  as  a  hawk's.  Ever 
since  early  manhood  he  had  wandered  over  the 
plains,  hunting  and  trapping ;  he  had  waged  sav- 
age private  war  against  half  the  Indian  tribes  of 
the  north;  and  he  had  wedded  wives  in  each  of 
the  tribes  of  the  other  half.  A  few  years  before 
this  time  the  great  buffalo  herds  had  vanished, 
and  the  once  swarming  beaver  had  shared  the 
same  fate;  the  innumerable  horses  and  horned 
stock  of  the  cattlemen,  and  the  daring  rough 
riders  of  the  ranches,  had  supplanted  alike  the 
game  and  the  red  and  white  wanderers  who  had 
followed  it  with  such  fierce  rivalry.  When  the 
change  took  place  the  old  fellow,  vv^ith  failing 
bodily  powers,  found  his  life-work  over.  He  had 
little  taste  for  the  career  of  the  desperado,  horse- 
thief,  highwayman,  and  man-killer,  which  not  a 
few  of  the  old  buffalo-hunters  adopted  when  their 
legitimate  occupation  was  gone;  he  scorned  still 
more  the  life  of  vicious  and  idle  semi-criminality 
led  by  others  of  his  former  companions  who  were 
of  weaker  mould.  Yet  he  could  not  do  regular 
work.  His  existence  had  been  one  of  excite- 
ment, adventure,  and  restless  roaming,  when  it 


Hunting  the  Prongbuck  93 

was  not  passed  in  lazy  ease ;  his  times  of  toil  and 
peril  varied  by  fits  of  brutal  revelry.  He  had  no 
kin,  no  ties  of  any  kind.  He  would  accept  no 
help,  for  his  wants  were  very  few,  and  he  was 
utterly  self-reliant.  He  got  meat,  clothing,  and 
bedding  from  the  antelope  and  deer  he  killed ;  the 
spare  hides  and  venison  he  bartered  for  what  little 
else  he  needed.  So  he  built  him  his  tepee  in  one 
of  the  most  secluded  parts  of  the  Bad  Lands, 
where  he  led  the  life  of  a  solitary  hunter,  awaiting 
in  grim  loneliness  the  death  which  he  knew  to  be 
near  at  hand. 

I  unsaddled  and  picketed  my  horse,  and  fol- 
lowed the  old  hunter  into  his  smoky  tepee;  sat 
down  on  the  pile  of  worn  buffalo-robes  which 
formed  his  bedding,  and  waited  in  silence  while 
he  fried  some  deer  meat  and  boiled  some  coffee — 
he  was  out  of  flour.  As  I  ate,  he  gradually  un- 
bent and  talked  quite  freely,  and  before  I  left  he 
told  me  exactly  where  to  find  the  band,  which  he 
assured  me  was  located  for  the  winter,  and  would 
not  leave  unless  much  harried. 

After  a  couple  of  hours'  rest  I  again  started, 
and  pushed  out  to  the  end  of  the  Bad  Lands. 
Here,  as  there  had  been  no  wind,  I  knew  I  should 
find  in  the  snow  the  tracks  of  one  of  the  riders 
from  the  line  camp,  whose  beat  lay  along  the  edge 
of  the  prairie  for  some  eight  miles,  until  it  met 
the  beat  of  a  rider  from  the  line  camp  next  above. 


94  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

As  nightfall  came  on  it  grew  even  colder;  long 
icicles  hung  from  the  lips  of  my  horse ;  and  I  shiv- 
ered slightly  in  my  fur  coat.  I  had  reckoned  the 
distance  ill,  and  it  was  dusk  when  I  struck  the 
trail ;  but  my  horse  at  once  turned  along  it  of  his 
own  accord  and  began  to  lope.  Half  an  hour 
later  I  saw  through  the  dark  what  looked  like  a 
spark  on  the  side  of  a  hill.  Toward  this  my  horse 
turned;  and  in  another  moment  a  whinnying 
from  in  front  showed  I  was  near  the  camp.  The 
light  was  shining  through  a  small  window,  the 
camp  itself  being  a  dugout  with  a  log  roof  and 
front — a  kind  of  frontier  building,  always  warm 
in  winter.  After  turning  my  horse  into  the  rough 
log  stable  with  the  horses  of  the  two  cowboys,  I 
joined  the  latter  at  supper  inside  the  dugout; 
being  received,  of  course,  with  hearty  cordiality. 
After  the  intense  cold  outside  the  warmth  within 
was  almost  oppressive,  for  the  fire  was  roaring  in 
the  big  stone  fireplace.  The  bunks  were  broad; 
my  two  friends  turned  into  one,  and  I  was  given 
the  other,  with  plenty  of  bedding;  so  that  my 
sleep  was  sound. 

We  had  breakfasted  and  saddled  our  horses  and 
were  off  by  dawn  next  morning.  My  companions, 
mufiled  in  furs,  started  in  opposite  directions  to 
ride  their  lonely  beats,  while  I  steered  for  my 
hunting-ground.  It  was  a  lowering  and  gloomy 
day;   at  sunrise  pale,  lurid  sundogs  hung  in  the 


Hunting  the  Prongbuck  95 

glimmering  mist ;  gusts  of  wind  moaned  through 
the  ravines. 

At  last  I  reached  a  row  of  bleak  hills,  and  from 
a  ridge  looked  cautiously  down  on  the  chain  of 
plateaus,  where  I  had  been  told  I  should  see 
the  antelope.  Sure  enough,  there  they  were,  to 
the  number  of  several  hundred,  scattered  over  the 
level,  snow-streaked  surface  of  the  nearest  and 
largest  plateau,  greedily  cropping  the  thick,  short 
grass.  Leaving  my  horse  tied  in  a  hollow,  I  speed- 
ily stalked  up  a  coulie  to  within  a  hundred  yards 
of  the  nearest  band  and  killed  a  good  buck.  In- 
stantly all  the  antelope  in  sight  ran  together  into 
a  thick  mass  and  raced  away  from  me,  until  they 
went  over  the  opposite  edge  of  the  plateau;  but 
almost  as  soon  as  they  did  so  they  were  stopped 
by  deep  drifts  of  powdered  snow,  and  came  back 
to  the  summit  of  the  table-land.  They  then 
circled  round  the  edge  at  a  gallop,  and  finally 
broke  madly  by  me,  jostling  one  another  in  their 
frantic  haste  and  crossed  by  a  small  ridge  into  the 
next  plateau  beyond;  as  they  went  by  I  shot  a 
yearling. 

I  now  had  all  the  venison  I  wished,  and  would 
shoot  no  more,  but  I  was  curious  to  see  how  the 
antelope  would  act,  and  so  walked  after  them. 
They  ran  about  half  a  mile,  and  then  the  whole 
herd,  of  several  hundred  individuals,  wheeled  into 
line  fronting  me,  like  so  many  cavalry,  and  stood 


9^  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

motionless,  the  white  and  brown  bands  on  their 
necks  looking  like  the  facings  on  a  uniform.  As 
I  walked  near  they  again  broke  and  rushed  to  the 
end  of  the  valley.  Evidently  they  feared  to  leave 
the  fiats  for  the  broken  country  beyond,  where 
the  rugged  hills  were  riven  by  gorges,  in  some  of 
which  snow  lay  deep  even  thus  early  in  the  season. 
Accordingly,  after  galloping  a  couple  of  times 
round  the  valley,  they  once  more  broke  by  me,  at 
short  range,  and  tore  back  along  the  plateaus  to 
that  on  which  I  had  first  found  them.  Their  evi- 
dent and  extreme  reluctance  to  venture  into  the 
broken  country  round  about  made  me  readily  un- 
derstand the  tales  I  had  heard  of  game  butchers 
killing  over  a  hundred  individuals  at  a  time  out 
of  a  herd  so  situated. 

I  walked  back  to  my  game,  dressed  it,  and 
lashed  the  saddles  and  hams  behind  me  on  my 
horse ;  I  had  chosen  old  Sorrel  Joe  for  the  trip  be- 
cause he  was  strong,  tough,  and  quiet.  Then  I 
started  for  the  ranch,  keeping  to  the  prairie  as 
long  as  I  could,  because  there  the  going  was 
easier;  sometimes  I  rode,  sometimes  I  ran  on 
foot,  leading  Sorrel  Joe. 

Late  in  the  afternoon,  as  I  rode  over  a  roll  in 
the  prairie  I  saw  ahead  of  me  a  sight  very  unusual 
at  that  season;  a  small  emigrant  train  going 
westward.  There  were  three  white-topped  prai- 
rie schooners,   containing  the  household  goods, 


Hunting  the  Prongbuck  97 

the  tow-headed  children,  and  the  hard-faced, 
bony  women;  the  tired  horses  were  straining 
wearily  in  the  traces;  the  bearded,  moody  men 
walked  alongside.  They  had  been  belated  by 
sickness,  and  the  others  of  their  company  had 
gone  ahead  to  take  up  claims  along  the  Yellow- 
stone; now  they  themselves  were  pushing  for- 
ward in  order  to  reach  the  holdings  of  their 
friends  before  the  first  deep  snows  stopped  all 
travel.  They  had  no  time  to  halt ;  for  there  were 
still  two  or  three  miles  to  go  that  evening  before 
they  could  find  a  sheltered  resting-place,  with 
fuel,  grass,  and  water.  A  little  while  after  pass- 
ing them  I  turned  in  the  saddle  and  looked  back. 
The  lonely  little  train  stood  out  sharply  on  the 
sky-line,  the  wagons  looming  black  against  the 
cold,  red  west  as  they  toiled  steadily  onward 
across  the  snowy  plain. 

Night  soon  fell ;  but  I  cared  little,  for  I  was  on 
ground  I  knew.  The  old  horse  threaded  his  way 
at  a  lope  along  the  familiar  game  trails  and  cattle 
paths;  in  a  couple  of  hours  I  caught  the  gleam 
from  the  firelit  windows  of  the  ranch-house.  No 
man  who,  for  his  good-fortune,  has  at  times  in  his 
life  endured  toil  and  hardship,  ever  fails  to  ap- 
preciate the  strong  elemental  pleasures  of  rest, 
after  labor,  food  after  hunger,  warmth  and  shelter 
after  bitter  cold. 

So  much  for  the  winter  hunting.     But  in  the 


98  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

fall,  when  the  grass  is  dry  as  tinder,  the  antelope 
hunter,  like  other  plainsmen,  must  sometimes  face 
fire  instead  of  frost.  Fire  is  one  of  the  most 
dreaded  enemies  of  the  ranchmen  on  the  cattle 
ranges ;  and  fighting  a  big  prairie  fire  is  a  work  of 
extraordinary  labor,  and  sometimes  of  danger. 
The  line  of  flame,  especially  when  seen  at  night, 
undulating  like  a  serpent,  is  very  beautiful; 
though  it  lacks  the  terror  and  grandeur  of  the 
great  forest  fires. 

One  October,  Ferguson  and  I,  with  one  of  the 
cow-hands,  and  a  friend  from  the  East,  took  the 
wagon  for  an  antelope  hunt  in  the  broken  country 
between  the  Little  Missouri  and  the  Beaver.  The 
cowboy  drove  the  wagon  to  a  small  spring,  near 
some  buttes  which  are  well  distinguished  by  a 
number  of  fossil  tree-stumps ;  while  the  rest  of  us, 
who  were  mounted  on  good  horses,  made  a  circle 
after  antelope.  We  found  none,  and  rode  on  to 
camp,  reaching  it  about  the  middle  of  the  after- 
noon. We  had  noticed  several  columns  of  smoke 
in  the  southeast,  showing  that  prairie  fires  were 
under  way;  but  we  thought  that  they  were  too 
far  off  to  endanger  our  camp,  and  accordingly  un- 
saddled our  horses  and  sat  down  to  a  dinner  of 
bread,  beans,  and  coffee.  Before  we  were  through 
the  smoke  began  to  pour  over  a  ridge  a  mile  dis- 
tant in  such  quantities  that  we  ran  thither  with 
our  slickers,  hoping  to  find  some  stretch  of  broken 


Frost,  Fire,  and  Thirst         .    99 

ground  where  the  grass  was  sparse,  and  where 
we  could  fight  the  fire  with  effect.  Our  hopes 
were  vain.  Before  we  reached  the  ridge  the  fire 
came  over  its  crest,  and  ran  down  in  a  long  tongue 
between  two  scoria  buttes.  Here  the  grass  was 
quite  short  and  thin,  and  we  did  our  best  to  beat 
out  the  flames ;  but  they  gradually  gained  on  us, 
and  as  they  reached  the  thicker  grass  lower  down 
the  slope,  they  began  to  roar  and  dart  forward  in 
a  way  that  bade  us  pay  heed  to  our  own  safety. 
Finally  they  reached  a  winding  line  of  brushwood 
in  the  bottom  of  the  coulie ;  and  as  this  burst  into 
a  leaping  blaze  we  saw  it  was  high  time  to  look  to 
the  safety  of  our  camp,  and  ran  back  to  it  at  top 
speed.  Ferguson,  who  had  been  foremost  in 
fighting  the  fire,  was  already  scorched  and  black- 
ened. 

We  were  camped  on  the  wagon  trail  which  leads 
along  the  divide  almost  due  south  to  Sentinel 
Butte.  The  line  of  fire  was  fanned  by  a  southeast- 
erly breeze,  and  was  therefore  advancing  diago- 
nally to  the  divide.  If  we  could  drive  the  wagon 
southward  on  the  trail  in  time  to  get  it  past  the 
fire  before  the  latter  reached  the  divide,  we  would 
be  to  windward  of  the  flames,  and  therefore  in 
safety.  Accordingly,  while  the  others  were  hastily 
harnessing  the  team,  and  tossing  the  bedding  and 
provisions  into  the  wagon,  I  threw  the  saddle  on 
my  horse,  and  galloped  down  the  trail,  to  see  if 


loo  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

there  was  yet  time  to  adopt  this  expedient.  I 
soon  found  that  there  was  not.  Half  a  mile  from 
camp  the  trail  dipped  into  a  deep  coulie,  where 
fair-sized  trees  and  dense  undergrowth  made  a 
long  winding  row  of  brush  and  timber.  The  trail 
led  right  under  the  trees  at  the  upper  end  of  this 
coulie.  As  I  galloped  by  I  saw  that  the  fire  had 
struck  the  trees  a  quarter  of  a  mile  below  me ;  in 
the  dried  timber  it  instantly  sprang  aloft  like  a 
giant,  and  roared  in  a  thunderous  monotone  as  it 
swept  up  the  coulie.  I  galloped  to  the  hill  ridge 
ahead,  saw  that  the  fire  line  had  already  reached 
the  divide,  and  turned  my  horse  sharp  on  his 
haunches.  As  I  again  passed  under  the  trees,  the 
fire,  running  like  a  race -horse  in  the  brush,  had 
reached  the  road ;  its  breath  was  hot  in  my  face ; 
tongues  of  quivering  flame  leaped  over  my  head 
and  kindled  the  grass  on  the  hillside  fifty  yards 
away. 

When  I  got  back  to  camp  Ferguson  had  taken 
measures  for  the  safety  of  the  wagon.  He  had 
moved  it  across  the  coulie,  which  at  this  point  had 
a  wet  bottom,  making  a  bar  to  the  progress  of  the 
flames  until  they  had  time  to  work  across  lower 
down.  Meanwhile  we  fought  to  keep  the  fire  from 
entering  the  well-grassed  space  on  the  hither  side 
of  the  coulie,  between  it  and  a  row  of  scoria  buttes. 
Favored  by  a  streak  of  clay  ground,  where  the 
grass  was  sparse,  we  succeeded  in  beating  out  the 


Frost,  Fire,  and  Thirst  loi 

flame  as  it  reached  this  clay  streak,  and  again 
beating  it  out  when  it  ran  round  the  buttes  and 
began  to  back  up  towards  us  against  the  wind. 
Then  we  recrossed  the  couHe  with  the  wagon,  be- 
fore the  fire  swept  up  the  farther  side;  and  so, 
when  the  flames  passed  by,  they  left  us  camped  on 
a  green  oasis  in  the  midst  of  a  charred,  smoking 
desert.  We  thus  saved  some  good  grazing  for 
our  horses. 

But  our  fight  with  the  fire  had  only  begun.  No 
stockman  will  see  a  fire  waste  the  range  and  de- 
stroy the  winter  feed  of  the  stock  without  spending 
every  ounce  of  his  strength  in  the  effort  to  put  a 
stop  to  its  ravages — even  when,  as  in  our  case,  the 
force  of  men  and  horses  at  hand  is  so  small  as  to 
offer  only  the  very  slenderest  hope  of  success , 

We  set  about  the  task  in  the  way  customary  in 
the  cattle  country.  It  is  impossible  for  any  but  a 
very  large  force  to  make  head  against  a  prairie  fire 
while  there  is  any  wind ;  but  the  wind  usually  fails 
after  nightfall,  and  accordingly  the  main  fight  is 
generally  waged  during  the  hours  of  darkness. 

Before  dark  we  drove  to  camp  and  shot  a  stray 
steer,  and  then  split  its  carcass  in  two  lengthwise 
with  an  axe.  After  sundown  the  wind  lulled ;  and 
we  started  towards  the  line  of  fire,  which  was 
working  across  a  row  of  broken  grassy  hills  three 
quarters  of  a  mile  distant.  Two  of  us  were  on 
horseback,  dragging  a  half  carcass,  bloody  side 


I02  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

down,  by  means  of  ropes  leading  from  our  saddle- 
horns  to  the  fore  and  hind  legs;  the  other  two 
followed  on  foot  with  slickers  and  wet  saddle 
blankets.  There  was  a  reddish  glow  in  the  night 
air,  and  the  waving,  bending  lines  of  flame  showed 
in  great  bright  curves  against  the  hillsides  ahead 
of  us. 

When  we  reached  them,  we  found  the  fire  burn- 
ing in  a  long,  continuous  line.  It  was  not  making 
rapid  headway,  for  the  air  was  still,  and  the  flames 
stood  upright,  two  or  three  feet  high.  Lengthen- 
ing the  ropes,  one  of  us  spurred  his  horse  across 
the  fire  line,  and  then,  wheeling,  we  dragged  the 
carcass  along  it ;  one  horseman  being  on  the  burnt 
ground,  and  one  on  the  unburnt  grass,  while  the 
body  of  the  steer  lay  lengthwise  across  the  line. 
The  weight  and  the  blood  smothered  the  fire  as 
we  twitched  the  carcass  over  the  burning  grass; 
and  the  two  men  following  behind  with  their 
blankets  and  slickers  readily  beating  out  any 
isolated  tufts  of  flames. 

The  fire  made  the  horses  wild,  and  it  was  not 
always  easy  to  manage  both  them  and  the  ropes, 
so  as  to  keep  the  carcass  true  on  the  line.  Some- 
times there  would  be  a  slight  puff  of  wind,  and 
then  the  man  on  the  grass  side  of  the  line  ran  the 
risk  of  a  scorching.  We  were  blackened  with 
smoke,  and  the  taut  ropes  hurt  our  thighs ;  while 
at  times  the  plunging  horses  tried  to  buck  or  bolt 


Frost,  Fire,  and  Thirst  103 

It  was  worse  when  we  came  to  some  deep  gully  or 
ravine,  breaking  the  line  of  fire.  Into  this  we  of 
course  had  to  plunge,  so  as  to  get  across  to  the  fire 
on  the  other  side.  After  the  glare  of  the  flame  the 
blackness  of  the  ravine  was  Stygian ;  we  could  see 
nothing,  and  simply  spurred  our  horses  into  it  any- 
where, taking  our  chances.  Down  we  would  go, 
stumbling,  sliding,  and  pitching,  over  cut  banks 
and  into  holes  and  bushes,  while  the  carcass 
bounded  behind,  now  catching  on  a  stump,  and 
now  fetching  loose  with  a  *'  pluck"  that  brought  it 
full  on  the  horses'  haunches,  driving  them  nearly 
crazy  with  fright.  The  pull  up  the  opposite  bank 
was,  if  anything,  worse. 

By  midnight  the  half -carcass  was  worn  through ; 
but  we  had  stifled  the  fire  in  the  comparatively 
level  country  to  the  eastwards.  Back  we  went  to 
camp,  drank  huge  draughts  of  muddy  water,  de- 
voured roast  ox-ribs,  and  dragged  out  the  other 
half  carcass  to  fight  the  fire  on  the  west.  But 
after  hours  of  wearing  labor  we  found  ourselves 
altogether  baffled  by  the  exceeding  roughness  of 
the  ground.  There  was  some  little  risk  to  us  who 
were  on  horseback,  dragging  the  carcass ;  we  had 
to  feel  our  way  along  knife-like  ridges  in  the  dark, 
one  ahead  and  the  other  behind,  while  the  steer 
dangled  over  the  precipice  on  one  side;  and  in 
going  down  the  buttes  and  into  the  canyons  only 
by  extreme  care  could  we  avoid  getting  tangled  in 


I04         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

the  ropes  and  rolling  down  in  a  heap.  Moreover, 
the  fire  was  in  such  rough  places  that  the  carcass 
could  not  be  twitched  fairly  over  it,  and  so  we 
could  not  put  it  out.  Before  dawn  we  were 
obliged  to  abandon  our  fruitless  efforts  and  seek 
camp,  stiffened  and  weary.  From  a  hill  we  looked 
back  through  the  pitchy  night  at  the  fire  we  had 
failed  to  conquer.  It  had  been  broken  into  many 
lines  by  the  roughness  of  the  chasm-strewn  and 
hilly  country.  Of  these  lines  of  flame  some  were  in 
advance,  some  behind,  some  rushing  forward  in 
full  blast  and  fury,  some  standing  still ;  here  and 
there  one  wheeling  towards  a  flank,  or  burning  in 
a  semicircle  round  an  isolated  hill.  Some  of  the 
lines  were  flickering  out;  gaps  were  showing  in 
others.  In  the  darkness  it  looked  like  the  rush  of 
a  mighty  army,  bearing  triumphantly  onwards,  in 
spite  of  a  resistance  so  stubborn  as  to  break  its 
formation  into  many  fragments  and  cause  each 
one  of  them  to  wage  its  own  battle  for  victory  or 
defeat. 

On  the  wide  plains  where  the  prongbuck  dwells 
the  hunter  must  sometimes  face  thirst,  as  well  as 
fire  and  frost.  The  only  time  I  ever  really  suffered 
from  thirst  was  while  hunting  prongbuck. 

It  was  late  in  the  summer.  I  was  with  the 
ranch- wagon  on  the  way  to  join  a  round-up,  and 
as  we  were  out  of  meat  I  started  for  a  day's  hunt. 
Before  leaving  in  the  morning  I  helped  to  haul  the 


Frost,  Fire,  and  Thirst  105 

wagon  across  the  river.  It  was  fortunate  I  stayed, 
as  it  turned  out.  There  was  no  regular  ford  where 
we  made  the  crossing ;  we  anticipated  no  trouble, 
as  the  water  was  very  low,  the  season  being  dry. 
However,  we  struck  a  quicksand,  in  which  the 
wagon  settled,  while  the  frightened  horses  floun- 
dered helplessly.  All  the  riders  at  once  got  their 
ropes  on  the  wagon,  and,  hauling  from  the  saddle, 
finally  pulled  it  through.  This  took  time ;  and  it 
was  ten  o'clock  when  I  rode  away  from  the  river, 
at  which  my  horse  and  I  had  just  drunk — our  last 
drink  for  over  twenty-four  hours,  as  it  turned 
out. 

After  two-  or  three  hours'  ride,  up  winding  cou- 
lies,  and  through  the  scorched  desolation  of  patches 
of  Bad  Lands,  I  reached  the  rolling  prairie.  The 
heat  and  drought  had  long  burned  the  short  grass 
dull  brown ;  the  bottoms  of  what  had  been  pools 
were  covered  with  hard,  dry,  cracked  earth.  The 
day  was  cloudless,  and  the  heat  oppressive.  There 
were  many  antelope,  but  I  got  only  one  shot, 
breaking  a  buck's  leg;  and,  though  I  followed  it 
for  a  couple  of  hours,  I  could  not  overtake  it.  By 
this  time  it  was  late  in  the  afternoon,  and  I  was 
far  away  from  the  river ;  so  I  pushed  for  a  creek, 
in  the  bed  of  which  I  had  always  found  pools  of 
water,  especially  toward  the  head,  as  is  usual  with 
plains  watercourses.  To  my  chagrin,  however, 
they  all  proved  to  be  dry ;  and  though  I  rode  up 


io6  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

the  creek  bed  toward  the  head,  carefully  searching 
for  any  sign  of  water,  night  closed  on  me  before  I 
found  any.  For  two  or  three  hours  I  stumbled  on, 
leading  my  horse,  in  my  fruitless  search;  then  a 
tumble  over  a  cut  bank  in  the  dark  warned  me 
that  I  might  as  well  stay  where  I  was  for  the  rest 
of  the  warm  night.  Accordingly,  I  unsaddled  the 
horse,  and  tied  him  to  a  sage-brush ;  after  awhile 
he  began  to  feed  on  the  dewy  grass.  At  first  I 
was  too  thirsty  to  sleep.  Finally  I  fell  into  slum- 
ber, and  when  I  awoke  at  dawn  I  felt  no  thirst. 
For  an  hour  or  two  more  I  continued  my  search 
for  water  in  the  creek  bed ;  then  abandoned  it  and 
rode  straight  for  the  river.  By  the  time  we 
reached  it  my  thirst  had  come  back  with  re- 
doubled force,  my  mouth  was  parched,  and  the 
horse  was  in  quite  as  bad  a  plight ;  we  rushed  down 
to  the  brink,  and  it  seemed  as  if  we  could  neither 
of  us  ever  drink  our  fill  of  the  tepid,  rather  muddy 
water.  Of  course  this  experience  was  merely  un- 
pleasant ;  thirst  is  not  a  source  of  real  danger  in 
the  plains  country  proper,  whereas  in  the  hideous 
deserts  that  extend  from  southern  Idaho  through 
Utah  and  Nevada  to  Arizona,  it  ever  menaces 
with  death  the  hunter  and  explorer. 

In  the  plains  the  weather  is  apt  to  be  in  ex- 
tremes; the  heat  is  tropical,  the  cold  arctic,  and 
the  droughts  are  relieved  by  furious  floods.  These 
are  generally  most  severe  and  lasting  in  the  spring, 


Frost,  Fire,  and  Thirst  107 

after  the  melting  of  the  snow;  and  fierce  local 
freshets  follow  the  occasional  cloudbursts.  The 
large  rivers  then  become  wholly  impassable,  and 
even  the  smaller  are  formidable  obstacles.  It  is 
not  easy  to  get  cattle  across  a  swollen  stream, 
where  the  current  runs  like  a  turbid  mill-race  over 
the  bed  of  shifting  quicksand.  Once  five  of  us  took 
a  thousand  head  of  trail  steers  across  the  Little 
Missouri  when  the  river  was  up,  and  it  was  no 
light  task.  The  muddy  current  was  boiling  past 
the  banks,  covered  with  driftwood  and  foul  yellow 
froth,  and  the  frightened  cattle  shrank  from  en- 
tering it.  At  last,  by  hard  riding,  with  much 
loud  shouting  and  swinging  of  ropes,  we  got  the 
leaders  in,  and  the  whole  herd  followed.  After 
them  we  went  in  our  turn,  the  horses  swimming 
at  one  moment,  and  the  next  staggering  and 
floundering  through  the  quicksand.  I  was  riding 
my  pet  cutting  horse,  Muley,  which  has  the  pro- 
voking habit  of  making  great  bounds  where  the 
water  is  just  not  deep  enough  for  swimming ;  once 
he  almost  unseated  me.  Some  of  the  cattle  were 
caught  by  the  currents  and  rolled  over  and  over; 
most  of  these  we  were  able,  with  the  help  of  our 
ropes,  to  put  on  their  feet  again;  only  one  was 
drowned,  or  rather  choked  in  a  quicksand.  Many 
swam  down  stream,  and  in  consequence  struck  a 
difficult  landing,  where  the  river  ran  under  a  cut 
bank;  these  we  had  to  haul  out  with  our  ropes. 


io8  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

Both  men  and  horses  were  well  tired  by  the  time 
the  whole  herd  was  across. 

Although  I  have  often  had  a  horse  down  in 
quicksand,  or  in  crossing  a  swollen  river,  and  have 
had  to  work  hard  to  save  him,  I  have  never  myself 
lost  one  under  such  circumstances.  Yet  once  I 
saw  the  horse  of  one  of  my  men  drown  under 
him  directly  in  front  of  the  ranch-house,  while 
he  was  trying  to  cross  the  river.  This  was  in  early 
spring,  soon  after  the  ice  had  broken. 

When  making  long  wagon-trips  over  the  great 
plains,  antelope  often  offer  the  only  source  of  meat 
supply,  save  for  occasional  water-fowl,  sage-fowl, 
and  prairie-fowl — the  sharp-tailed  prairie-fowl,  be 
it  understood.  This  is  the  characteristic  grouse  of 
the  cattle  country ;  the  true  prairie-fowl  is  a  bird  of 
the  farming  land  farther  east. 

Towards  the  end  of  the  summer  of  '92  I  found  it 
necessary  to  travel  from  my  ranch  to  the  Black 
Hills,  some  two  hundred  miles  south.  The  ranch- 
wagon  went  with  me,  driven  by  an  all-round 
plainsman,  a  man  of  iron  nerves  and  varied  past, 
the  sheriff  of  our  county.  He  was  an  old  friend  of 
mine ;  at  one  time  I  had  served  as  deputy-sheriff 
for  the  northern  end  of  the  coimty.  In  the  wagon 
we  carried  our  food  and  camp  kit,  and  our  three 
rolls  of  bedding,  each  wrapped  in  a  thick,  nearly 
waterproof  canvas  sheet ;  we  had  a  tent,  but  we 
never  needed  it.     The  load  being  light,  the  wagon 


Frost,  Fire,  and  Thirst  109 

was  drawn  by  but  a  span  of  horses — a  pair  of  wild 
runaways,  tough,  and  good  travellers.  My  fore- 
jnan  and  I  rode  beside  the  wagon  on  our  wiry,  un- 
kempt, unshod  cattle-ponies.  They  carried  us  all 
day  at  a  rack,  pace,  single-foot,  or  slow  lope,  varied 
by  rapid  galloping  when  we  made  long  circles 
after  game ;  the  trot,  the  favorite  gait  with  eastern 
park-riders,  is  disliked  by  all  peoples  who  have  to 
do  much  of  their  life-work  in  the  saddle. 

The  first  day's  ride  was  not  attractive.  The  heat 
was  intense  and  the  dust  stifling,  as  we  had  to 
drive  some  loose  horses  for  the  first  few  miles,  and 
afterwards  to  ride  up  and  down  the  sandy  river- 
bed, where  the  cattle  had  gathered,  to  look  over 
some  young  steers  we  had  put  on  the  range  the 
preceding  spring.  When  we  did  camp  it  was  by  a 
pool  of  stagnant  water,  in  a  creek  bottom,  and  the 
mosquitoes  were  a  torment.  Nevertheless,  as  eve- 
ning fell,  it  was  pleasant  to  climb  a  little  knoll 
nearby  and  gaze  at  the  rows  of  strangely  colored 
buttes,  grass-clad,  or  of  bare  earth  and  scoria, 
their  soft  reds  and  purples  showing  as  through  a 
haze,  and  their  irregular  outlines  gradually  losing 
their  sharpness  in  the  fading  twilight. 

Next  morning  the  weather  changed,  growing 
cooler,  and  we  left  the  tangle  of  ravines  and  Bad 
Lands,  striking  out  across  the  vast  sea-like  prairies. 
Hour  after  hour,  under  the  bright  sun,  the  wagon 
drew   slowly   ahead,    over   the   immense   rolling 


no  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

stretches  of  short  grass,  dipping  down  each  long 
slope  until  it  reached  the  dry,  imperfectly  out- 
lined creek  bed  at  the  bottom, — wholly  devoid  of 
water  and  without  so  much  as  a  shrub  of  wood, — 
and  then  ascending  the  gentle  rise  on  the  other 
side  until  at  last  it  topped  the  broad  divide,  or 
watershed,  beyond  which  lay  the  shallow,  winding 
coulies  of  another  creek  system.  From  each  rise 
of  ground  we  looked  far  and  wide  over  the  sunlit 
prairie,  with  its  interminable  undulations.  The 
sicklebill  curlews  which  in  spring,  while  breeding, 
hover  above  the  travelling  horseman  with  cease- 
less clamor,  had  for  the  most  part  gone  southward. 
We  saw  only  one  small  party  of  half  a  dozen  birds ; 
they  paid  little  heed  to  us,  but  piped  to  one  another, 
making  short  flights,  and  on  alighting  stood  erect, 
first  spreading  and  then  folding  and  setting  their 
wings  with  a  slow,  graceful  motion.  Little  horned 
larks  continually  ran  along  the  ruts  of  the  faint 
wagon-track,  just  ahead  of  the  team,  and  twittered 
plaintively  as  they  rose,  while  flocks  of  longspurs 
swept  hither  and  thither,  in  fitful,  irregular  flight. 
My  foreman  and  I  usually  rode  far  off  to  one 
side  of  the  wagon,  looking  out  for  antelope.  Of 
these  we  at  first  saw  few,  but  they  grew  more 
plentiful  as  we  journeyed  onward,  approaching  a 
big,  scantily  wooded  creek,  where  I  had  found  the 
pronghorn  abundant  in  previous  seasons.  They 
were   very    wary   and   watchful,  whether   going 


Frost,  Fire,  and  Thirst  in 

singly  or  in  small  parties,  and  the  lay  of  the  land 
made  it  exceedingly  difficult  to  get  within  range. 
The  last  time  I  had  hunted  in  this  neighborhood 
was  in  the  fall,  at  the  height  of  the  rutting  season. 
Prongbucks,  even  more  than  other  game,  seem 
fairly  maddened  by  erotic  excitement.  At  the 
time  of  my  former  hunt  they  were  in  ceaseless 
motion ;  each  master  buck  being  incessantly  occu- 
pied in  herding  his  harem,  and  fighting  would-be 
rivals,  while  single  bucks  chased  single  does  as 
greyhounds  chase  hares,  or  else,  if  no  does  were  in 
sight,  from  sheer  excitement  ran  to  and  fro  as  if 
crazy,  racing  at  full  speed  in  one  direction,  then 
halting,  wheeling,  and  tearing  back  again  just  as 
hard  as  they  could  go. 

At  this  time,  however,  the  rut  was  still  some 
weeks  off,  and  all  the  bucks  had  to  do  was  to  feed 
and  keep  a  lookout  for  enemies.  Try  my  best,  I 
could  not  get  within  less  than  four  or  five  hundred 
yards,  and  though  I  took  a  number  of  shots  at 
these,  or  at  even  longer  distances,  I  missed.  If  a 
man  is  out  merely  for  a  day's  hunt,  and  has  all  the 
time  he  wishes,  he  will  not  scare  the  game  and 
waste  cartridges  by  shooting  at  such  long  ranges, 
preferring  to  spend  half  a  day  or  more  in  patient 
waiting  and  careful  stalking ;  but  if  he  is  travelling, 
and  is  therefore  cramped  for  time,  he  must  take 
his  chances,  even  at  the  cost  of  burning  a  good 
deal  of  powder. 


112  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

I  was  finally  helped  to  success  by  a  characteris- 
tic freak  of  the  game  I  was  following.  No  other 
animals  are  as  keen-sighted,  or  are  normally  as 
wary  as  pronghorns ;  but  no  others  are  so  whim- 
sical and  odd  in  their  behavior  at  times,  or  so  sub- 
ject to  fits  of  the  most  stupid  curiosity  and  panic. 
Late  in  the  afternoon,  on  topping  a  rise,  I  saw  two 
good  bucks  racing  off  about  three  hundred  yards 
to  one  side;  I  sprang  to  the  ground,  and  fired 
three  shots  at  them  in  vain,  as  they  ran  like  quar- 
ter-horses until  they  disappeared  over  a  slight 
swell.  In  a  minute,  however,  back  they  came, 
suddenly  appearing  over  the  crest  of  the  same 
swell,  immediately  in  front  of  me,  and,  as  I  after- 
wards found  by  pacing,  some  three  hundred  and 
thirty  yards  away.  They  stood  side  by  side  facing 
me,  and  remained  motionless,  unheeding  the  crack 
of  the  Winchester ;  I  aimed  at  the  right-hand  one, 
but  a  front  shot  of  the  kind,  at  such  a  distance,  is 
rather  difficult,  and  it  was  not  until  I  fired  for  the 
fourth  time  that  he  sank  back  out  of  sight.  I 
could  not  tell  whether  I  had  killed  him,  and  took 
two  shots  at  his  mate,  as  the  latter  went  off,  but 
without  effect.  Running  forward,  I  found  the  first 
one  dead,  the  bullet  having  gone  through  him 
lengthwise ;  the  other  did  not  seem  satisfied  even 
yet,  and  kept  hanging  round  in  the  distance  for 
some  minutes,  looking  at  us. 

I  had  thus  bagged  one  prongbuck,  as  the  net 


Frost,  Fire,  and  Thirst  113 

outcome  of  the  expenditure  of  fourteen  cartridges. 
This  was  certainly  not  good  shooting ;  but  neither 
was  it  as  bad  as  it  would  seem  to  the  man  inex- 
perienced in  antelope  hunting.  When  fresh  meat 
is  urgently  needed,  and  when  time  is  too  short,  the 
hunter  who  is  after  antelope  in  an  open,  fiattish 
country  must  risk  many  long  shots.  In  no  other 
kind  of  hunting  is  there  so  much  long-distance 
shooting,  or  so  many  shots  fired  for  every  head  of 
game  bagged. 

Throwing  the  buck  into  the  wagon  we  continued 
our  journey  across  the  prairie,  no  longer  following 
any  road,  and  before  sunset  jolted  down  towards 
the  big  creek  for  which  we  had  been  heading. 
There  were  many  water-holes  therein,  and  timber 
of  considerable  size ;  box-alder  and  ash  grew  here 
and  there  in  clumps  and  fringes,  beside  the  ser- 
pentine curves  of  the  nearly  dry  torrent  bed,  the 
growth  being  thickest  under  the  shelter  of  the 
occasional  low  bluffs.  We  drove  down  to  a  heavily 
grassed  bottom,  near  a  deep,  narrow  pool,  with,  at 
one  end,  that  rarest  of  luxuries  in  the  plains 
country,  a  bubbling  spring  of  pure,  cold  water. 
With  plenty  of  wood,  delicious  water,  ample  feed 
for  the  horses,  and  fresh  meat  we  had  every  com- 
fort and  luxury  incident  to  camp  life  in  good 
weather.  The  bedding  was  tossed  out  on  a  smooth 
spot  beside  the  wagon;  the  horses  were  watered 
and  tethered  to  picket-pins  where  the  feed  was 


114         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

best ;  water  was  fetched  from  the  spring ;  a  deep 
hole  was  dug  for  the  fire,  and  the  grass  round  about 
carefully  burned  off;  and  in  a  few  moments  the 
bread  was  baking  in  the  Dutch  oven,  the  potatoes 
were  boiling,  antelope  steaks  were  sizzling  in  the 
frying-pan,  and  the  kettle  was  ready  for  the  tea. 
After  supper,  eaten  with  the  relish  known  well  to 
every  hardworking  and  successful  hunter,  we  sat 
for  half  an  hour  or  so  round  the  fire,  and  then 
turned  in  under  the  blankets,  pulled  the  tarpaulins 
over  us,  and  listened  drowsily  to  the  wailing  of  the 
coyotes  until  we  fell  sound  asleep. 

We  determined  to  stay  in  this  camp  all  day,  so 
as  to  try  and  kill  another  prongbuck,  as  we 
would  soon  be  past  the  good  hunting-grounds.  I 
did  not  have  to  go  far  for  my  game  next  morning, 
for  soon  after  breakfast,  while  sitting  on  my  can- 
vas bag  cleaning  my  rifle,  the  sheriff  suddenly 
called  to  me  that  a  bunch  of  antelope  was  coming 
towards  us.  Sure  enough  there  they  were,  four  in 
number,  rather  over  half  a  mile  off,  on  the  first 
bench  of  the  prairie,  two  or  three  hundred  yards 
back  from  the  creek,  leisurely  feeding  in  our  direc- 
tion. In  a  minute  or  two  they  were  out  of  sight, 
and  I  instantly  ran  along  the  creek  towards  them 
for  a  quarter  of  a  mile,  and  then  crawled  up  a 
short,  shallow  coulie,  close  to  the  head  of  which 
they  seemed  likely  to  pass.  When  nearly  at  the 
end  I  cautiously  raised  my  hatless  head,  peered 


Frost,  Fire,  and  Thirst  115 

through  some  straggling  weeds,  and  at  once  saw 
the  horns  of  the  buck.  He  was  a  big  fellow,  about 
a  hundred  and  twenty  yards  off ;  the  others,  a  doe 
and  two  kids,  were  in  front.  As  I  lifted  myself 
on  my  elbows  he  halted  and  turned  his  raised  head 
towards  me;  the  sunlight  shone  bright  on  his 
supple,  vigorous  body  with  its  markings  of  sharply 
contrasted  brown  and  white.  I  pulled  trigger, 
and  away  he  went ;  but  I  could  see  that  his  race 
was  nearly  run,  and  he  fell  after  going  a  few  hun- 
dred yards. 

Soon  after  this  a  windstorm  blew  up,  so  violent 
that  we  could  hardly  face  it.  In  the  late  after- 
noon it  died  away,  and  I  again  walked  out  to 
hunt,  but  saw  only  does  and  kids,  at  which  I 
would  not  shoot.  As  the  sun  set,  leaving  bars  of 
amber  and  pale  red  in  the  western  sky,  the  air  be- 
came absolutely  calm.  In  the  waning  evening  the 
low,  far-off  ridges  were  touched  with  a  violet  light ; 
then  the  hues  grew  sombre,  and  still  darkness  fell 
on  the  lonely  prairie. 

Next  morning  we  drove  to  the  river,  and  kept 
near  it  for  several  days,  most  of  the  time  following 
the  tracks  made  by  the  heavy  wagons  accompany- 
ing the  trail-herds — this  being  one  of  the  regular 
routes  followed  by  the  great  throng  of  slow-moving 
cattle  yearly  driven  from  the  south.  At  other 
times  we  made  our  own  road.  Twice  or  thrice 
we  passed  ranch -houses ;  the  men  being  absent 


ii6  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

on  the  round-up,  they  were  shut,  save  one,  which 
was  inhabited  by  two  or  three  lean  Texan  cow- 
punchers,  with  sun-burned  faces  and  reckless 
eyes,  who  had  come  up  with  a  trail-herd  from  the 
Cherokee  strip.  Once,  near  the  old  Sioux  crossing, 
where  the  Dakota  war-bands  used  to  ford  the  river 
on  their  forays  against  the  Crows  and  the  settlers 
along  the  Yellowstone,  we  met  a  large  horse-herd. 
The  tough,  shabby,  tired-looking  animals,  one  or 
two  of  which  were  loaded  with  bedding  and  a 
scanty  supply  of  food,  were  driven  by  three  travel- 
worn,  hard-faced  men,  with  broad  hats,  shaps,  and 
long  pistols  in  their  belts.  They  had  brought  the 
herd  over  plain  and  mountain  pass  all  the  way 
from  far  distant  Oregon. 

It  was  a  wild,  rough  country,  bare  of  trees,  save 
for  a  fringe  of  cottonwoods  along  the  river,  and 
occasional  clumps  of  cedar  on  the  jagged,  brown 
buttes;  as  we  went  farther  the  hills  turned  the 
color  of  chalk,  and  were  covered  with  a  growth  of 
pine.  We  came  upon  acres  of  sunflowers  as  we 
journeyed  southward ;  they  are  not  as  tall  as  they 
are  in  the  rich  bottom  lands  of  Kansas,  where  the 
splendid  blossoms,  on  their  strong  stalks,  stand  as 
high  as  the  head  of  a  man  on  horseback. 

Though  there  were  many  cattle  here,  big  game 
was  scarce.  However,  I  killed  plenty  of  prairie- 
chickens  and  sage-hens  for  the  pot;  and  as  the 
sage-hens  were  still   feeding  largely  on  crickets 


Frost,  Fire,  and  Thirst  117 

and  grasshoppers,  and  not  exclusively  on  sage, 
they  were  just  as  good  eating  as  the  prairie- 
chickens.  I  used  the  rifle,  cutting  off  their  heads 
or  necks,  and,  as  they  had  to  be  shot  on  the 
ground,  and  often  while  in  motion,  or  else  while 
some  distance  away,  it  was  more  difficult  than 
shooting  off  the  heads  of  grouse  in  the  mountains, 
where  the  birds  sit  motionless  in  trees.  The  head 
is  a  small  mark,  while  to  hit  the  body  is  usually  to 
spoil  the  bird ;  so  I  found  that  I  averaged  three  or 
four  cartridges  for  every  head  neatly  taken  off, 
the  remaining  shots  representing  spoiled  birds  and 
misses. 

For  the  last  sixty  or  seventy  miles  of  our  trip 
we  left  the  river  and  struck  off  across  a  great,  deso- 
late gumbo  prairie.  There  was  no  game,  no  wood 
for  fuel,  and  the  rare  water-holes  were  far  apart, 
so  that  we  were  glad  when,  as  we  toiled  across  the 
monotonous  succession  of  long,  swelling  ridges, 
the  dim,  cloud-like  mass,  looming  vague  and  purple 
on  the  rim  of  the  horizon  ahead  of  us,  gradually 
darkened  and  hardened  into  the  bold  outline  of 
the  Black  Hills. 


CHAPTER  VI 

AMONG  THE  HIGH  HILLS;    THE  BIGHORN  OR  MOUN- 
TAIN   SHEEP 

DURING  the  summer  of  1886  I  hunted 
chiefly  to  keep  the  ranch  in  meat.  It 
was  a  very  pleasant  summer;  although 
it  was  followed  by  the  worst  winter  we  ever  wit- 
nessed on  the  plains.  I  was  much  at  the  ranch, 
where  I  had  a  good  deal  of  writing  to  do;  but 
every  week  or  two  I  left,  to  ride  among  the  line 
camps,  or  spend  a  few  days  on  any  round-up 
which  happened  to  be  in  the  neighborhood. 

These  days  of  vigorous  work  among  the  cattle 
were  themselves  full  of  pleasure.  At  dawn  we 
were  in  the  saddle,  the  morning  air  cool  in  our 
faces;  the  red  sunrise  saw  us  loping  across  the 
grassy  reaches  of  prairie  land,  or  climbing  in  single 
file  among  the  rugged  buttes.  All  the  forenoon  we 
spent  riding  the  long  circle  with  the  cow-punchers 
of  the  round-up ;  in  the  afternoon  we  worked  the 
herd,  cutting  the  cattle,  with  much  breakneck 
galloping  and  dextrous  halting  and  wheeling. 
Then  came  the  excitement  and  hard  labor  of  rop- 
ing, throwing,  and  branding  the  wild  and  vigorous 

118 


Among  the  High  Hills  119 

range  calves — in  a  corral,  if  one  was  handy ;  other- 
wise, in  a  ring  of  horsemen.  Soon  after  nightfall 
we  lay  down — in  a  log  hut  or  tent,  if  at  a  line  camp ; 
under  the  open  sky,  if  with  the  round-up  wagon. 

After  ten  days  or  so  of  such  work,  in  which 
every  man  had  to  do  his  full  share, — for  laggards 
and  idlers,  no  matter  who,  get  no  mercy  in  the  real 
and  healthy  democracy  of  the  round-up, — I  would 
go  back  to  the  ranch  to  turn  to  my  books  with 
added  zest  for  a  fortnight.  Yet  even  during  these 
weeks  at  the  ranch  there  was  some  outdoor  work ; 
for  I  was  breaking  two  or  three  colts.  I  took  my 
time,  breaking  them  gradually  and  gently — not, 
after  the  usual  cowboy  fashion,  in  a  hurry,  by 
sheer  main  strength  and  rough  riding,  with  the  at- 
tendant danger  to  the  limbs  of  the  man  and  very 
probable  ruin  to  the  manners  of  the  horse.  We 
rose  early;  each  morning  I  stood  on  the  low- 
roofed  verandah,  looking  out,  under  the  line  of 
murmuring,  glossy-leaved  cottonwoods,  across  the 
shallow  river,  to  see  the  sun  flame  above  the  line  of 
bluffs  opposite.  In  the  evening  I  strolled  off  for 
an  hour  or  two's  walk,  rifle  in  hand.  The  roomy, 
home-like  ranch-house,  with  its  log  walls,  shingled 
roof,  and  big  chimneys  and  fireplaces,  stands  in  a 
glade,  in  the  midst  of  the  thick  forest,  which  covers 
half  the  bottom ;  behind  rises,  bare  and  steep,  the 
wall  of  peaks,  ridges,  and  table-lands. 

During  the  summer  in  question,  I  once  or  twice 


I20  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

shot  a  whitetail  buck  right  on  this  large  bottom; 
once  or  twice  I  killed  a  blacktail  in  the  hills  behind, 
not  a  mile  from  the  ranch-house.  Several  times  I 
killed  and  brought  in  prongbucks,  rising  before 
dawn,  and  riding  off  on  a  good  horse  for  an  all- 
day's  hunt  in  the  rolling  prairie  country,  twelve  or 
fifteen  miles  away.  Occasionally  I  took  the  wagon 
and  one  of  the  men,  driving  to  some  good  hunting- 
ground  and  spending  a  night  or  two;  usually  re- 
turning with  two  or  three  prongbucks,  and  once 
with  an  elk — but  this  was  later  in  the  fall.  Not 
infrequently  I  went  away  by  myself  on  horseback 
for  a  couple  of  days,  when  all  the  men  were  on  the 
round-up,  and  when  I  wished  to  hunt  thoroughly 
some  country  quite  a  distance  from  the  ranch. 
I  made  one  such  hunt  in  late  August,  because  I 
happened  to  hear  that  a  small  bunch  of  mountain 
sheep  were  haunting  a  tract  of  very  broken 
ground,  with  high  hills,  about  fifteen  miles  away. 

I  left  the  ranch  early  in  the  morning,  riding  my 
favorite  hunting-horse,  old  Manitou.  The  blanket 
and  oilskin  slicker  were  rolled  and  strapped  be- 
hind the  saddle;  for  provisions  I  carried  salt,  a 
small  bag  of  hardtack,  and  a  little  tea  and  sugar, 
with  a  metal  cup  in  which  to  boil  my  water.  The 
rifle  and  a  score  of  cartridges  in  my  woven  belt 
completed  my  outfit.  On  my  journey  I  shot  two 
prairie-chickens  from  a  covey  in  the  bottom  of  a 
brush  coulie. 


Among  the  High  Hills  121 

I  rode  more  than  six  hours  before  reaching  a 
good  spot  to  camp.  At  first  my  route  lay  across 
grassy  plateaus,  and  along  smooth,  wooded  cou- 
lies ;  but  after  a  few  miles  the  ground  became  very 
rugged  and  difficult.  At  last  I  got  into  the  heart 
of  the  Bad  Lands  proper,  where  the  hard,  v/rinkled 
earth  was  torn  into  shapes  as  sullen  and  grotesque 
as  those  of  dreamland.  The  hills  rose  high,  their 
barren  flanks  carved  and  channelled,  their  tops 
mere  needles  and  knife  crests.  Bands  of  black, 
red,  and  purple  varied  the  gray  and  yellow-brown 
of  their  sides ;  the  tufts  of  scanty  vegetation  were 
dull  green.  Sometimes  I  rode  my  horse  at  the 
Dottom  of  narrow  washouts,  between  straight 
walls  of  clay,  but  a  few  feet  apart;  sometimes  I 
had  to  lead  him  as  he  scrambled  up,  down,  and 
across  the  sheer  faces  of  the  buttes.  The  glare 
from  the  bare  clay  walls  dazzled  the  eye ;  the  air 
was  burning  under  the  hot  August  sun.  I  saw 
nothing  living  except  the  rattlesnakes,  of  which 
there  were  very  many. 

At  last,  in  the  midst  of  this  deviFs  wilderness,  I 
came  on  a  lovely  valley.  A  spring  trickled  out  of 
a  cedar  canyon,  and  below  this  spring  the  narrow, 
deep  ravine  was  green  with  luscious  grass,  and 
was  smooth  for  some  hundreds  of  yards.  Here  I 
unsaddled,  and  turned  old  Manitou  loose  to  drink 
and  feed  at  his  leisure.  At  the  edge  of  the  dark 
cedar  wood  I  cleared  a  spot  for  my  bed,  and  drew 


122  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

a  few  dead  sticks  for  the  fire.  Then  I  lay  down 
and  watched  drowsily  until  the  afternoon  shadows 
filled  the  wild  and  beautiful  gorge  in  which  I  was 
camped.  This  happened  early,  for  the  valley  was 
very  narrow  and  the  hills  on  either  hand  were 
steep  and  high. 

Springing  to  my  feet,  I  climbed  the  nearest 
ridge,  and  then  made  my  way,  by  hard  clamber- 
ing, from  peak  to  peak  and  from  crest  to  crest , 
sometimes  crossing  and  sometimes  skirting  the 
deep  washouts  and  canyons.  When  possible,  I 
avoided  appearing  on  the  sky-line,  and  I  moved 
with  the  utmost  caution,  walking  in  a  wide  sweep 
so  as  to  hunt  across  and  up  wind.  There  was 
much  sheep  sign,  some  of  it  fresh,  though  I  saw 
none  of  the  animals  themselves ;  the  square  slots, 
with  the  indented  marks  of  the  toe  points  wide 
apart,  contrasting  strongly  with  the  heart-shaped 
and  delicate  footprints  of  deer.  The  animals  had, 
according  to  their  habit,  beaten  trails  along  the 
summits  of  the  higher  crests ;  little  side-trails  lead- 
ing to  any  spur,  peak,  or  other  vantage  point  from 
which  there  was  a  wide  outlook  over  the  country 
roundabout. 

The  bighorns  of  the  Bad  Lands,  unlike  those  of 
the  mountains,  shift  their  range  but  little,  winter 
or  summer.  Save  in  the  breeding  season,  when 
each  master  ram  gets  together  his  own  herd,  the 
ewes,  lambs,  and  yearlings  are  apt  to  go  in  bands 


The  Bighorn  or  Mountain  Sheep    123 

by  themselves,  while  the  males  wander  in  small 
parties;  now  and  then  a  very  morose  old  fellow 
lives  by  himself,  in  some  precipitous,  out-of-the- 
way  retreat.  The  rut  begins  with  them  much 
later  than  with  deer;  the  exact  time  varies  with 
the  locality,  but  it  is  always  after  the  bitter  winter 
weather  has  set  in.  Then  the  old  rams  fight 
fiercely  together,  and  on  rare  occasions  utter  a 
long  grunting  bleat  or  call.  They  are  marvellous 
climbers,  and  dwell  by  choice  always  among  cliffs 
and  jagged,  broken  ground,  whether  wooded  or 
not.  An  old  bighorn  ram  is  heavier  than  the 
largest  buck ;  his  huge,  curved  horns,  massive  yet 
supple  build,  and  proud  bearing  mark  him  as  one 
of  the  noblest  beasts  of  the  chase.  He  is  wary; 
great  skill  and  caution  must  be  shown  in  approach- 
ing him;  and  no  one  but  a  good  climber,  with  a 
steady  head,  sound  lungs,  and  trained  muscles, 
can  successfully  hunt  him  in  his  own  rugged  fast- 
nesses. The  chase  of  no  other  kind  of  American 
big  game  ranks  higher,  or  more  thoroughly  tests 
the  manliest  qualities  of  the  hunter. 

I  walked  back  to  camp  in  the  gloaming,  taking 
care  to  reach  it  before  it  grew  really  dark ;  for  in 
the  Bad  Lands  it  is  entirely  impossible  to  travel, 
or  to  find  any  given  locality,  after  nightfall.  Old 
Manitou  had  eaten  his  fill  and  looked  up  at  me 
with  pricked  ears  and  wise,  friendly  face  as  I 
climbed  down  the  side  of  the  cedar  canyon ;  then 


124  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

he  came  slowly  towards  me  to  see  if  I  had  not 
something  for  him.  I  rubbed  his  soft  nose  and 
gave  him  a  cracker ;  then  I  picketed  him  to  a  soli- 
tary cedar,  where  the  feed  was  good.  Afterwards 
I  kindled  a  small  fire,  roasted  both  prairie-fowl, 
ate  one,  and  put  the  other  by  for  breakfast ;  and 
soon  rolled  myself  in  my  blanket,  with  the  saddle 
for  a  pillow,  and  the  oilskin  beneath.  Manitou 
was  munching  the  grass  nearby.  I  lay  just  out- 
side the  line  of  stiff  black  cedars;  the  night  air 
was  soft  in  my  face;  I  gazed  at  the  shining  and 
brilliant  multitude  of  stars  until  my  eyelids  closed. 
The  chill  breath  which  comes  before  dawn 
awakened  me^  It  was  still  and  dark.  Through 
the  gloom  I  could  indistinctly  make  out  the  loom 
of  the  old  horse,  lying  down,  I  was  speedily 
ready,  and  groped  and  stumbled  slowly  up  the 
hill,  and  then  along  its  crest  to  a  peak.  Here  I 
sat  down  and  waited  a  quarter  of  an  hour  or  so, 
until  gray  appeared  in  the  east,  and  the  dim 
light-streaks  enabled  me  to  walk  farther.  Before 
sunrise  I  was  two  miles  from  camp ;  then  I  crawled 
cautiously  to  a  high  ridge  and,  crouching  behind  it, 
scanned  all  the  landscape  eagerly.  In  a  few  min- 
utes a  movement  about  a  third  of  a  mile  to  the 
right,  midway  down  a  hill,  caught  my  eve.  An- 
other glance  showed  me  three  Vs^hite  specks  moviii^ 
along  the  hillside.  They  were  the  white  rumps  of 
three  fine  mountain  sheep,  on  their  way  to  drink 


The  Bighorn  or  Mountain  Sheep    125 

at  a  little  alkaline  pool  in  the  bottom  of  a  deep, 
narrow  valley.  In  a  moment  they  went  out  of 
sight  round  a  bend  of  the  valley ;  and  I  rose  and 
trotted  briskly  towards  them,  along  the  ridge. 
There  were  two  or  three  deep  gullies  to  cross,  and 
a  high  shoulder  over  which  to  clamber ;  so  I  was 
out  of  breath  when  I  reached  the  bend  beyond 
which  they  had  disappeared.  Taking  advantage 
of  a  scrawny  sage-brush  as  cover,  I  peeped  over  the 
edge,  and  at  once  saw  the  sheep — three  big  young 
rams.  They  had  finished  drinking,  and  were 
standing  beside  the  little  miry  pool,  about  three 
hundred  yards  distant.  Slipping  back,  I  dropped 
down  into  the  bottom  of  the  valley,  where  a  nar- 
row washout  zigzagged  from  side  to  side,  between 
straight  walls  of  clay.  The  pool  was  in  the  upper 
end  of  this  washout,  under  a  cut  bank. 

An  indistinct  game  trail,  evidently  sometimes 
used  by  both  bighorn  and  blacktail,  ran  up  this 
washout ;  the  bottom  was  of  clay,  so  that  I  walked 
noiselessly ;  and  the  crookedness  of  the  washout's 
course  afforded  ample  security  against  discovery 
by  the  sharp  eyes  of  the  quarry.  In  a  couple  of 
minutes  I  stalked  stealthily  round  the  last  bend, 
my  rifle  cocked  and  at  the  ready,  expecting  to  see 
the  rams  by  the  pool.  However,  they  had  gone, 
and  the  muddy  water  was  settling  in  their  deep 
hoof -marks.  Running  on,  I  looked  over  the  edge 
of  the  cut  bank  and  saw  them  slowly  quartering 


126  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

up  the  hillside,  cropping  the  sparse  tufts  of  coarse 
grass.  I  whistled,  and  as  they  stood  at  gaze  I 
put  a  bullet  into  the  biggest,  a  little  too  far  aft  of 
the  shoulder,  but  ranging  forward.  He  raced 
after  the  others,  but  soon  fell  behind,  and  turned 
off  on  his  own  line,  at  a  walk,  with  drooping  head. 
As  he  bled  freely,  I  followed  his  tracks,  found  him, 
very  sick,  in  a  washout  a  quarter  of  a  mile  beyond, 
and  finished  him  with  another  shot.  After  dress- 
ing him,  and  cutting  off  the  saddle  and  hams,  as 
well  as  the  head,  I  walked  back  to  camp,  break- 
fasted, and  rode  Manitou  to  where  the  sheep  lay. 
Packing  it  securely  behind  the  saddle,  and  shifting 
the  blanket-roll  to  in  front  of  the  saddle-horn,  I 
led  the  horse  until  we  were  clear  of  the  Bad  Lands ; 
then  mounted  him,  and  was  back  at  the  ranch  soon 
after  midday.  The  mutton  of  a  fat  young  moun- 
tain ram,  at  this  season  of  the  year,  is  delicious. 

Such  quick  success  is  rare  in  hunting  sheep. 
Generally  each  head  has  cost  me  several  days  of 
hard,  faithful  work;  and  more  than  once  I  have 
hunted  over  a  week  without  any  reward  whatso- 
ever. But  the  quarry  is  so  noble  that  the  ulti- 
mate triumph — sure  to  come,  if  the  hunter  will 
but  persevere  long  enough — atones  for  all  pre- 
vious toil  and  failure. 

Once  a  lucky  stalk  and  shot  at  a  bighorn  was 
almost  all  that  redeemed  a  hunt  in  the  Rockies 
from  failure.     I  was  high  among  the  mountains 


The  Bighorn  or  Mountain  Sheep    127 

at  the  time,  but  was  dogged  by  ill  luck;  I  had 
seen  but  little,  and  I  had  not  shot  very  well.  One 
morning  I  rose  early,  and  hunted  steadily  until 
midday  without  seeing  anything.  A  mountain 
hunter  was  with  me.  At  noon  we  sat  down  to 
rest,  and  look  over  the  country,  from  behind  a 
shield  of  dwarf  evergreens,  on  the  brink  of  a 
mighty  chasm.  The  rocks  fell  downwards  in  huge 
cliffs,  stern  and  barren;  from  far  below  rose  the 
strangled  roaring  of  the  torrent,  as  the  foaming 
masses  of  green  and  white  water  churned  round 
the  boulders  in  the  stream  bed.  Except  this 
humming  of  the  wild  water,  and  the  soughing  of 
the  pines,  there  was  no  sound.  We  were  sitting 
on  a  kind  of  jutting  promontory  of  rock,  so  that  we 
could  scan  the  cliffs  far  and  near.  First,  I  took  the 
glasses,  and  scrutinized  the  ground  almost  rod  by 
rod,  for  nearly  half  an  hour ;  then  my  companion 
took  them  in  turn.  It  is  very  hard  to  make  out 
game,  especially  when  lying  down,  and  still;  and 
it  is  curious  to  notice  how,  after  fruitlessly  scan- 
ning a  country  through  the  glasses  for  a  consid- 
erable period,  a  herd  of  animals  will  suddenly 
appear  in  the  field  of  vision  as  if  by  magic.  In 
this  case,  while  my  companion  held  the  glasses  for 
the  second  time,  a  slight  motion  caught  his  eye ; 
and  looking  attentively  he  made  out,  five  or  six 
hundred  yards  distant,  a  mountain  ram  lying 
among  some  loose  rocks  and  small  bushes  at  the 


128  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

head  of  a  little  grassy  cove  or  nook,  in  a  shallow 
break  between  two  walls  of  the  cliff.  So  well  did 
the  bluish  gray  of  its  body  harmonize  in  tint  with 
the  rocks  and  shrubbery  that  it  was  some  time 
before  I  could  see  it,  even  when  pointed  out  to  me. 
The  wind  was  favorable,  and  we  at  once  drew 
back  and  began  a  cautious  stalk.  It  was  impos- 
sible, owing  to  the  nature  of  the  cliffs  above  and 
below  the  bighorn's  resting-place,  to  get  a  shot 
save  by  creeping  along  nearly  on  a  level  with  him. 
Accordingly  we  worked  our  way  down  through  a 
big  cleft  in  the  rocks,  being  forced  to  go  very 
slowly  and  carefully  lest  we  should  start  a  loose 
stone,  and  at  last  reached  a  narrow  terrace  of 
rock  and  grass,  along  which  we  walked  compara- 
tively at  our  ease.  Soon  it  dwindled  away,  and 
we  then  had  to  do  our  only  difficult  piece  of  climb- 
ing— a  clamber  for  fifty  or  sixty  feet  across  a  steep 
cliff  shoulder.  Some  little  niches  and  cracks  in 
the  rock  and  a  few  projections  and  diminutive 
ledges  on  its  surface,  barely  enabled  us  to  swarm 
across,  with  painstaking  care — not  merely  to 
avoid  alarming  the  game  this  time,  but  also  to 
avoid  a  slip  which  would  have  proved  fatal.  Once 
across,  we  came  on  a  long,  grassy  shelf,  leading 
round  a  shoulder  into  the  cleft  where  the  ram  lay. 
As  I  neared  the  end  I  crept  forward  on  hands  and 
knees,  and  then  crawled  fiat,  shoving  the  rifle 
ahead  of  me,  until  I  rounded  the  shoulder  and 


The  Bighorn  or  Mountain  Sheep    129 

peered  into  the  rift.  As  my  eyes  fell  on  the  ram 
he  sprang  to  his  feet,  with  a  clatter  of  loose  stones, 
and  stood  facing  me,  some  sixty  yards  off,  his  dark 
face  and  white  muzzle  brought  out  finely  by  the 
battered,  curved  horns.  I  shot  into  his  chest, 
hitting  him  in  the  sticking-place ;  and  after  a  few 
mad  bounds  he  tumbled  headlong,  and  fell  a  very 
great  distance,  unfortunately  injuring  one  horn. 

When  much  hunted,  bighorn  become  the  wariest 
of  all  American  game,  and  their  chase  is  then 
peculiarly  laborious  and  exciting.  But  where 
they  have  known  nothing  of  men,  not  having  been 
molested  by  hunters,  they  are  exceedingly  tame. 
Professor  John  Bache  McMaster  informs  me  that 
in  1877  he  penetrated  to  the  Uintah  Mountains  of 
Wyoming,  which  were  then  almost  unknown  to 
hunters ;  he  found  all  the  game  very  bold,  and  the 
wild  sheep  in  particular  so  unsuspicious  that  he 
could  walk  up  to  within  short  rifle-range  of  them 
in  the  open. 

On  the  high  mountains  bighorn  occasionally 
get  killed  by  a  snow-slide.  My  old  friend,  the 
hunter  Woody,  once  saw  a  band  which  started 
such  an  avalanche  by  running  along  a  steep  slop- 
ing snow-field,  it  being  in  the  spring;  for  several 
hundred  yards  it  thundered  at  their  heels,  but  by 
desperate  racing  they  just  managed  to  get  clear. 
Woody  was  also  once  an  eye-witness  to  the  rav- 
ages the  cougar  commits  among  these  wild  sheep. 


I30  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

He  was  stalking  a  band  in  the  snow  when  he  saw 
them  suddenly  scatter  at  a  run  in  every  direction. 
Coming  up  he  found  the  traces  of  a  struggle, 
and  the  track  of  a  body  being  dragged  through 
the  snow,  together  with  the  round  footmarks  of  the 
cougar;  a  little  farther  on  lay  a  dead  ewe,  the 
blood  flowing  from  the  fang  wounds  in  her  throat. 


CHAPTER  VII 

MOUNTAIN    game;     THE    WHITE-GOAT 

LATE  one  August  I  started  on  a  trip  to  the 
Big  Hole  Basin,  in  western  Montana,  to 
hunt  white -goats.  With  me  went  a  friend 
of  many  hunts,  John  Willis,  a  tried  mountain-man. 
We  left  the  railroad  at  the  squalid  little  hamlet 
of  Divide,  where  we  hired  a  team  and  wagon  from 
a  '*  busted  "  granger,  suspected  of  being  a  Mormon, 
who  had  failed,  even  with  the  help  of  irrigation, 
in  raising  a  crop.  The  wagon  was  in  fairly  good 
order ;  the  harness  was  rotten,  and  needed  patch- 
ing with  ropes;  while  the  team  consisted  of  two 
spoiled  horses,  overworked  and  thin,  but  full  of 
the  devil  the  minute  they  began  to  pick  up  condi- 
tion. However,  on  the  frontier  one  soon  grows  to 
accept  little  facts  of  this  kind  with  bland  indiffer- 
ence ;  and  Willis  was  not  only  an  expert  teamster, 
but  possessed  that  inexhaustible  fertility  of  re- 
source and  unfailing  readiness  in  an  emergency 
so  characteristic  of  the  veteran  of  the  border. 
Through  hard  experience  he  had  become  master  of 
plainscraft  and  woodcraft,  skilled  in  all  frontier 
lore. 

For  a  couple  of  days  we  jogged  up  the  valley  of 

131 


132  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

the  Big  Hole  River,  along  the  mail  road.  At 
night  we  camped  under  our  wagon.  At  the  mouth 
of  the  stream  the  valley  was  a  mere  gorge,  but  it 
broadened  steadily  the  farther  up  we  went,  till 
the  rapid  river  wound  through  a  wide  expanse  of 
hilly,  treeless  prairie.  On  each  side  the  mountains 
rose,  their  lower  flanks  and  the  foothills  covered 
with  the  evergreen  forest.  We  got  milk  and  bread 
at  the  scattered  log-houses  of  the  few  settlers; 
and  for  meat  we  shot  sage-fowl,  which  abounded. 
Th^y  were  feeding  on  grasshoppers  at  this  time, 
and  the  flesh,  especially  of  the  young  birds,  was  as 
tender  and  well  tasting  as  possible ;  whereas,  when 
we  again  passed  through  the  valley  in  September, 
we  found  the  birds  almost  uneatable,  being  fairly 
bitter  with  sage.  Like  all  grouse,  they  are  far 
tamer  earlier  in  the  season  than  later,  being  very 
wild  in  winter;  and,  of  course,  they  are  boldest 
where  they  are  least  hunted;  but  for  some  un- 
explained reason  they  are  always  tamer  than  the 
sharp-tail  prairie-fowl  which  are  to  be  found  in  the 
same  locality. 

Finally,  we  reached  the  neighborhood  of  the 
Battle  Ground,  where  a  rude  stone  monument 
commemorates  the  bloody  drawn  fight  between 
General  Gibbons 's  soldiers  and  the  Nez  Perces 
warriors  of  Chief  Joseph.  Here,  on  the  third  day 
of  our  journey,  we  left  the  beaten  road  and  turned 
toward  the   mountains,    following   an   indistinct 


Mountain  Game  133 

trail  made  by  wood-choppers.  We  met  with  our 
full  share  of  the  usual  mishaps  incident  to  prairie 
travel;  and  towards  evening  our  team  got  mired 
in  crossing  a  slough.  We  attempted  the  crossing 
with  some  misgivings,  which  were  warranted  by 
the  result;  for  the  second  plunge  of  the  horses 
brought  them  up  to  their  bellies  in  the  morass, 
where  they  stuck.  It  was  freezing  cold,  with  a 
bitter  wind  blowing,  and  the  bog  holes  were 
skimmed  with  ice ;  so  that  we  passed  a  thoroughly 
wretched  two  hours  while  freeing  the  horses  and 
unloading  the  wagon.  However,  we  eventually 
got  across;  my  companion  preserving  an  abso- 
lutely unruffled  temper  throughout,  perse veringly 
whistling  the  **  Arkansas  Traveller."  At  one  pe- 
riod, when  we  were  up  to  our  waists  in  the  icy 
mud,  it  began  to  sleet  and  hail,  and  I  muttered 
that  I  would  "rather  it  did  n't  storm";  whereat 
he  stopped  whistling  for  a  moment  to  make  the 
laconic  rejoinder,  "We  're  not  having  our  rathers 
this  trip." 

At  nightfall  we  camped  among  the  willow  bushes 
by  a  little  brook.  For  firewood  we  had  only  dead 
willow  sticks ;  they  made  a  hot  blaze  which  soon 
died  out ;  and  as  the  cold  grew  intense,  we  rolled 
up  in  our  blankets  as  soon  as  we  had  eaten  our 
supper.  The  climate  of  the  Big  Hole  Basin  is 
alpine;  that  night,  though  it  was  the  20th  of  Au- 
gust, the  thermometer  sank  to  10°  F. 


134  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

Early  next  morning  we  struck  camp,  shivering 
with  cold  as  we  threw  the  stiff,  frozen  harness  on 
the  horses.  We  soon  got  among  the  foot-hills, 
where  the  forest  was  open  and  broken  by  large 
glades,  forming  what  is  called  a  park  country.  The 
higher  we  went  the  smaller  grew  the  glades  and 
the  denser  the  woodland ;  and  it  began  to  be  very 
difficult  to  get  the  wagon  forward.  In  many 
places  one  man  had  to  go  ahead  to  pick  out  the 
way,  and,  if  necessary,  to  do  a  little  chopping  and 
lopping  with  the  axe,  while  the  other  followed, 
driving  the  team.  At  last  we  were  brought  to  a 
standstill,  and  pitched  camp  beside  a  rapid,  alder- 
choked  brook  in  the  uppermost  of  a  series  of  rolling 
glades,  hemmed  in  by  mountains  and  the  dense 
coniferous  forest.  Our  tent  stood  under  a  grove 
of  pines,  close  to  the  brook ;  at  night  we  built  in 
front  of  it  a  big  fire  of  crackling,  resinous  logs. 
Our  goods  were  sheltered  by  the  wagon,  or  cov- 
ered with  a  tarpaulin;  we  threw  down  sprays  of 
odorous  evergreens  to  make  a  resting-place  for  our 
bedding ;  we  built  small  scaffolds  on  which  to  dry 
the  flesh  of  elk  and  deer.  In  an  hour  or  two  we 
had  round  us  all  the  many  real  comforts  of  such  a 
little  wilderness  home. 

Whoever  has  long  roamed  and  hunted  in  the 
wilderness  always  cherishes  with  wistful  pleasure 
the  memory  of  some  among  the  countless  camps 
he  has  made.     The  camp  by  the  margin  of  the 


Mountain  Game  135 

clear,  mountain-hemmed  lake;  the  camp  in  the 
dark  and  melancholy  forest,  where  the  gusty  wind 
booms  through  the  tall  pine  tops ;  the  camp  under 
gnarled  cottonwoods,  on  the  bank  of  a  shrunken 
river,  in  the  midst  of  endless  grassy  prairies, — of 
these,  and  many  like  them,  each  has  had  its  own 
charm.  Of  course,  in  hunting  one  must  expect 
much  hardship  and  repeated  disappointment ;  and 
in  many  a  camp,  bad  weather,  lack  of  shelter,  hun- 
ger, thirst,  or  ill  success  with  game,  renders  the  days 
and  nights  irksome  and  trying.  Yet  the  hunter 
worthy  of  the  name  always  willingly  takes  the 
bitter  if  by  so  doing  he  can  get  the  sweet,  and 
gladly  balances  failure  and  success,  spurning  the 
poorer  souls  who  know  neither. 

We  turned  our  horses  loose,  hobbling  one ;  and 
as  we  did  not  look  after  them  for  several  days, 
nothing  but  my  companion's  skill  as  a  tracker 
enabled  us  to  find  them  again.  There  was  a  spell 
of  warm  weather  which  brought  out  a  few  of  the 
big  bull-dog  flies,  which  drive  a  horse — or  indeed  a 
man  —  nearly  frantic;  we  were  in  the  haunts  of 
these  dreaded  and  terrible  scourges,  which  up  to 
the  beginning  of  August  render  it  impossible  to 
keep  stock  of  any  description  unprotected,  but 
which  are  never  formidable  after  the  first  frost. 
In  many  parts  of  the  wilderness  these  pests,  or 
else  the  incredible  swarms  of  mosquitoes,  black- 
flies,    and  buffalo-gnats,   render   life  not   worth 


13^  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

living  during  the  last  weeks  of  spring  and  the 
early  months  of  summer. 

There  were  elk  and  deer  in  the  neighborhood; 
also  ruffed,  blue,  and  spruce  grouse;  so  that  our 
camp  was  soon  stocked  with  meat.  Early  one 
morning,  while  Willis  was  washing  in  the  brook,  a 
little  black  bear  thrust  its  sharp  nose  through  the 
alders  a  few  feet  from  him,  and  then  hastily  with- 
drew and  was  seen  no  more.  The  smaller  wild 
folk  were  more  familiar.  As  usual  in  the  northern 
mountains,  the  gray  moose-birds  and  voluble,  ner- 
vous little  chipmunks  made  themselves  at  home 
in  the  camp.  Parties  of  chickadees  visited  us  oc- 
casionally. A  family  of  flying  squirrels  lived 
overhead  in  the  grove ;  and  at  nightfall  they  swept 
noiselessly  from  tree  to  tree,  in  long,  graceful 
curves.  There  were  sparrows  of  several  kinds 
moping  about  in  the  alders;  and  now  and  then 
one  of  them  would  sing  a  few  sweet,  rather  mourn- 
ful bars. 

After  several  days'  preliminary  exploration  we 
started  on  foot  for  white-goat.  We  took  no  packs 
with  us,  each  carrying  merely  his  jacket,  with  a 
loaf  of  bread  and  a  paper  of  salt  thrust  into  the 
pockets.  Our  aim  was  to  get  well  to  one  side  of  a 
cluster  of  high,  bare  peaks,  and  then  to  cross  them 
and  come  back  to  camp;  we  reckoned  that  the 
trip  would  take  three  days. 

All  the  first  day  we  tramped  through   dense 


The  White-Goat    .  137 

woods  and  across  and  around  steep  mountain 
spurs.  We  caught  glimpses  of  two  or  three  deer 
and  a  couple  of  elk,  all  does  or  fawns,  however, 
which  we  made  no  effort  to  molest.  Late  in  the 
afternoon  we  stumbled  across  a  family  of  spruce 
grouse,  which  furnished  us  material  for  both  sup- 
per and  breakfast.  The  mountain-men  call  this 
bird  the  fool-hen;  and  most  certainly  it  deserves 
the  name.  The  members  of  this  particular  flock, 
consisting  of  a  hen  and  her  three-parts  grown 
chickens,  acted  with  a  stupidity  unwonted  even 
for  their  kind.  They  were  feeding  on  the  ground 
among  some  young  spruce,  and  on  our  approach 
flew  up  and  perched  in  the  branches  four  or  five 
feet  above  our  heads.  There  they  stayed,  utter- 
ing a  low,  complaining  whistle,  and  showed  not 
the  slightest  suspicion  when  we  came  underneath 
them  with  long  sticks  and  knocked  four  off  their 
perches — for  we  did  not  wish  to  alarm  any  large 
game  that  might  be  in  the  neighborhood  by  firing. 
One  particular  bird  was  partially  saved  from  my 
first  blow  by  the  intervening  twigs;  however,  it 
merely  flew  a  few  yards,  and  then  sat  with  its  bill 
open, — having  evidently  been  a  little  hurt, — until 
I  came  up  and  knocked  it  over  with  a  better  di- 
rected stroke. 

Spruce  grouse  are  plentiful  in  the  mountain 
forests  of  the  northern  Rockies,  and,  owing  to 
the  ease  with  which  they  are  killed,  they  have 


138  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

furnished  me  my  usual  provender  when  off  on  trips 
of  this  kind,  where  I  carried  no  pack.  They  are 
marvellously  tame  and  stupid.  The  young  birds 
are  the  only  ones  I  have  ever  killed  in  this  manner 
with  a  stick ;  but  even  a  full-plumaged  old  cock  in 
September  is  easily  slain  with  a  stone  by  any  one 
who  is  at  all  a  good  thrower.  A  man  who  has 
played  much  base-ball  need  never  use  a  gun  when 
after  spruce  grouse.  They  are  the  smallest  of  the 
grouse  kind ;  the  cock  is  very  handsome,  with  red 
eyebrows  and  dark  glossy  plumage.  Moreover,  he 
is  as  brave  as  he  is  stupid  and  good-looking,  and  in 
the  love  season  becomes  fairly  crazy ;  at  such  time 
he  will  occasionally  make  a  feint  of  attacking  a 
man,  strutting,  fluttering,  and  ruffling  his  feathers. 
The  flesh  of  the  spruce  grouse  is  not  so  good  as 
that  of  his  ruffed  and  blue  kinsfolk ;  and  in  winter, 
when  he  feeds  on  spruce  buds,  it  is  ill  tasting.  I 
have  never  been  able  to  understand  why  closely 
allied  species,  under  apparently  the  same  sur- 
roundings, should  differ  so  radically  in  such  im- 
portant traits  as  wariness  and  capacity  to  escape 
from  foes.  Yet  the  spruce  grouse  in  this  respect 
shows  the  most  marked  contrast  to  the  blue  grouse 
and  the  ruffed  grouse.  Of  course,  all  three  kinds 
vary  greatly  in  their  behavior,  accordingly  as  they 
do  or  do  not  live  in  localities  where  they  have 
been  free  from  man's  persecutions.  The  ruffed 
grouse,  a  very  wary  game  bird  in  all  old-settled 


The  White-Goat  139 

regions,  is  often  absurdly  tame  in  the  wilderness ; 
and,  under  persecution,  even  the  spruce  grouse 
gains  some  little  wisdom ;  but  the  latter  never  be- 
comes as  wary  as  the  former,  and  under  no  cir- 
cumstances is  it  possible  to  outwit  the  niffed 
grouse  by  such  clumsy  means  as  serve  for  his 
simple-minded  brother.  There  is  a  similar  differ- 
ence between  the  sage-fowl  and  prairie-fowl,  in  fa- 
vor of  the  latter.  It  is  odd  that  the  largest  and  the 
smallest  kinds  of  grouse  found  in  the  United  States 
should  be  the  tamest ;  and  also  the  least  savory. 

After  tramping  all  day  through  the  forest,  at 
nightfall  we  camped  in  its  upper  edge,  just  at  the 
foot  of  the  steep  rock  walls  of  the  mountain.  We 
chose  a  sheltered  spot,  where  the  small  spruce 
grew  thick,  and  there  was  much  dead  timber ;  and 
as  the  logs,  though  long,  were  of  little  girth,  we 
speedily  dragged  together  a  number  sufficient  to 
keep  the  fire  blazing  all  night.  Having  drunk  our 
full  at  a  brook  we  cut  two  forked  willow  sticks,  and 
then  each  plucked  a  grouse,  split  it,  thrust  the 
willow-fork  into  it,  and  roasted  it  before  the  fire. 
Besides  this,  we  had  salt  and  bread;  moreover, 
we  were  hungry  and  healthily  tired ;  so  the  supper 
seemed,  and  was,  delicious.  Then  we  turned  up 
the  collars  of  our  jackets,  and  lay  down,  to  pass 
the  night  in  broken  slumber;  each  time  the  fire 
died  down  the  chill  waked  us,  and  we  rose  to  feed 
it  with  fresh  logs. 


HO         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

At  dawn  we  rose,  and  cooked  and  ate  the  two 
remaining  grouse.  Then  we  turned  our  faces 
upwards,  and  passed  a  day  of  severe  toil  in  chmb- 
ing  over  the  crags.  Mountaineering  is  very  hard 
work;  and  when  we  got  high  among  the  peaks, 
where  snow  filled  the  rifts,  the  thinness  of  the  air 
forced  me  to  stop  for  breath  every  few  hundred 
yards  of  the  ascent.  We  found  much  sign  of 
white-goats,  but  in  spite  of  steady  work  and  in- 
cessant careful  scanning  of  the  rocks,  we  did  not 
see  our  quarry  until  early  in  the  afternoon. 

We  had  clambered  up  one  side  of  a  steep  saddle 
of  naked  rock,  some  of  the  scarped  ledges  being 
difficult,  and  indeed  dangerous,  of  ascent.  From 
the  top  of  the  saddle  a  careful  scrutiny  of  the 
neighboring  peaks  failed  to  reveal  any  game,  and 
we  began  to  go  down  the  other  side.  The  moun- 
tain fell  away  in  a  succession  of  low  cliffs,  and  we 
had  to  move  with  the  utmost  caution.  In  letting 
ourselves  down  from  ledge  to  ledge  one  would  hold 
the  guns  until  the  other  got  safe  footing,  and  then 
pass  them  down  to  him.  In  many  places  we  had 
to  work  our  way  along  the  cracks  in  the  faces  of 
the  frost-riven  rocks.  At  last,  just  as  we  reached 
a  little  smooth  shoulder,  my  companion  said, 
pointing  down  beneath  us:  ''Look  at  the  white- 
goat!" 

A  moment  or  two  passed  before  I  got  my  eyes  on 
it.     We  were  looking  down  into  a  basin-like  valley, 


The  White-Goat  141 

surrounded  by  high  mountain  chains.  At  one  end 
of  the  basin  was  a  low  pass,  where  the  ridge  was 
cut  up  with  the  zigzag  trails  made  by  the  countless 
herds  of  game  which  had  travelled  it  for  many 
generations.  At  the  other  end  was  a  dark  gorge, 
through  which  a  stream  foamed.  The  floor  of  the 
basin  was  bright  emerald  green,  dotted  with 
darker  bands  where  belts  of  fir  trees  grew ;  and  in 
its  middle  lay  a  little  lake. 

At  last  I  caught  sight  of  the  goat,  feeding  on  a 
terrace  rather  over  a  hundred  and  twenty-five 
yards  below  me.  I  promptly  fired,  but  overshot. 
The  goat  merely  gave  a  few  jumps  and  stopped. 
My  second  bullet  went  through  its  lungs,  but  fear- 
ful lest  it  might  escape  to  some  inaccessible  cleft  or 
ledge  I  fired  again,  missing ;  and  yet  again,  break- 
ing its  back.  Down  it  went,  and  the  next  mo- 
ment began  to  roll  over  and  over,  from  ledge  to 
ledge.  I  greatly  feared  it  would  break  its  horns ; 
an  annoying  and  oft-recurring  incident  of  white- 
goat  shooting,  where  the  nature  of  the  ground  is 
such  that  the  dead  quarry  often  falls  hundreds  of 
feet,  its  body  being  torn  to  ribbons  by  the  sharp 
crags.  However,  in  this  case  the  goat  speedily 
lodged  unharmed  in  a  little  dwarf  evergreen. 

Hardly  had  I  fired  my  fourth  shot  when  my 
companion  again  exclaimed :  "  Look  at  the  white- 
goats  !  look  at  the  white-goats ! ' '  Glancing  in  the 
direction  in  which  he  pointed  I  speedily  made  out 


142  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

four  more  goats  standing  in  a  bunch  rather  less 
than  a  hundred  yards  off,  to  one  side  of  my  former 
Hne  of  fire.  They  were  all  looking  up  at  me.  They 
stood  on  a  slab  of  white  rock,  with  which  the  color 
of  their  fleece  harmonized  well;  and  their  black 
horns,  muzzles,  eyes,  and  hoofs  looked  like  dark 
dots  on  a  light-colored  surface,  so  that  it  took  me 
more  than  one  glance  to  determine  what  they 
were.  White-goat  invariably  run  up  hill  when 
alarmed,  their  one  idea  seeming  to  be  to  escape 
danger  by  getting  above  it ;  for  their  brute  foes 
are  able  to  overmatch  them  on  anything  like  level 
ground,  but  are  helpless  against  them  among 
the  crags.  Almost  as  soon  as  I  saw  them 
these  four  started  up  the  mountain,  nearly  in 
my  direction,  while  I  clambered  down  and  across 
to  meet  them.  They  halted  at  the  foot  of  a 
cliff,  and  I  at  the  top,  being  unable  to  see  them ; 
but  in  another  moment  they  came  bounding 
and  cantering  up  the  sheer  rocks,  not  moving 
quickly,  but  traversing  the  most  seemingly  im- 
possible places  by  main  strength  and  sure-footed- 
ness.  As  they  broke  by  me,  some  thirty  yards  off, 
I  fired  two  shots  at  the  rearmost,  an  old  buck, 
somewhat  smaller  than  the  one  I  had  just  killed ; 
and  he  rolled  down  the  mountain  dead.  Two  of 
the  others,  a  yearling  and  a  kid,  showed  more 
alarm  than  their  elders,  and  ran  off  at  a  brisk  pace. 
The  remaining  one,  an  old  she,  went  off  a  hundred 


The  White-Goat  143 

yards,  and  then  deliberately  stopped  and  turned 
round  to  gaze  at  us  for  a  couple  of  minutes !  Verily, 
the  white-goat  is  the  fool-hen  among  beasts  of  the 
chase. 

Having  skinned  and  cut  off  the  heads  we  walked 
rapidly  onwards,  slanting  down  the  mountain-side, 
and  then  over  and  down  the  pass  of  the  game 
trails ;  for  it  was  growing  late,  and  we  wished  to 
get  well  down  among  the  timber  before  nightfall. 
On  the  way  an  eagle  came  soaring  overhead, 
and  I  shot  at  it  twice  without  success.  Having 
once  killed  an  eagle  on  the  wing  with  a  rifle,  I 
always  have  a  lurking  hope  that  sometimes  I  may 
be  able  to  repeat  the  feat.  I  revenged  myself  for 
the  miss  by  knocking  a  large  blue  goshawk  out  of 
the  top  of  a  blasted  spruce,  where  it  was  sitting  in 
lazy  confidence,  its  crop  stuffed  with  rabbit  and 
grouse. 

A  couple  of  hours'  hard  walking  brought  us 
down  to  timber;  just  before  dusk  we  reached  a 
favorable  camping  spot  in  the  forest,  beside  a 
brook,  with  plenty  of  dead  trees  for  the  night  fire. 
Moreover,  the  spot  fortunately  yielded  us  our  sup- 
per, too,  in  the  shape  of  a  flock  of  young  spruce 
grouse,  of  which  we  shot  off  the  heads  of  a  couple. 
Immediately  afterwards  I  ought  to  have  procured 
our  breakfast,  for  a  cock  of  the  same  kind  sud- 
denly flew  down  nearby ;  but  it  was  getting  dark, 
I  missed  with  the  first  shot,  and  with  the  second 


144         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

must  have  merely  creased  the  neck,  for  though  the 
tough  old  bird  dropped,  it  fluttered  and  ran  off 
among  the  underbrush  and  escaped. 

We  broiled  our  two  grouse  before  our  fire, 
dragged  plenty  of  logs  into  a  heap  beside  it,  and 
then  lay  down  to  sleep  fitfully,  an  hour  or  so  at  a 
time,  throughout  the  night.  We  were  continually 
wakened  by  the  cold,  when  we  had  to  rise  and  feed 
the  flames.  In  the  early  morning  we  again 
started,  walking  for  some  time  along  the  fresh 
trail  made  by  a  large  band  of  elk,  cows  and  calves. 
We  thought  we  knew  exactly  the  trend  and  outlet 
of  the  valley  in  which  we  were,  and  that  therefore 
we  could  tell  where  the  camp  was ;  but,  as  so  often 
happens  in  the  wilderness,  we  had  not  reckoned 
aright,  having  passed  over  one  mountain  spur  too 
many,  and  entered  the  ravines  of  an  entirely  dif- 
ferent watercourse-system.  In  consequence,  we 
became  entangled  in  a  network  of  hills  and  valleys, 
making  circle  after  circle  to  find  our  bearings ;  and 
we  only  reached  camp  after  twelve  hours'  tire- 
some tramp  without  food. 

On  another  occasion  I  shot  a  white-goat  while  it 
was  in  a  very  curious  and  characteristic  attitude. 
I  was  hunting,  again  with  an  old  mountain-man 
as  my  sole  companion,  among  the  high  mountains 
of  the  Kootenai  country,  near  the  border  of  Mon- 
tana and  British  Columbia.  We  had  left  our  main 
camp,  pitched  by  the  brink  of  the  river,  and  were 


The  White-Goat  145 

struggling  wearily  on  foot  through  the  tangled 
forest  and  over  the  precipitous  mountains,  carry- 
ing on  our  backs  light  packs,  consisting  of  a  little 
food  and  two  or  three  indispensable  utensils, 
wrapped  in  our  blankets.  One  day  we  came  to 
the  foot  of  a  great  chain  of  bare  rocks,  and  climbed 
laboriously  to  its  crest,  up  cliff  after  cliff,  some  of 
which  were  almost  perpendicular.  Swarming 
round  certain  of  the  rock  shoulders,  crossing  an 
occasional  sheer  chasm,  and  in  many  places  cling- 
ing to  steep,  smooth  walls  by  but  slight  holds,  we 
reached  the  top.  The  climbing  at  such  a  height 
was  excessively  fatiguing;  moreover,  it  was  in 
places  difficult  and  even  dangerous.  Of  course,  it 
was  not  to  be  compared  to  the  ascent  of  towering, 
glacier-bearing  peaks,  such  as  those  of  the  Selkirks 
and  Alaska,  where  climbers  must  be  roped  to  one 
another  and  carry  ice-axes. 

Once  at  the  top  we  walked  very  cautiously, 
being  careful  not  to  show  ourselves  against  the  sky- 
line, and  scanning  the  mountain-sides  through  our 
glasses.  At  last  we  made  out  three  goats,  grazing 
unconcernedly  on  a  narrow  grassy  terrace,  which 
sloped  abruptly  to  the  brink  of  a  high  precipice. 
They  were  not  very  far  off,  and  there  was  a  little 
rock  spur  above  them  which  offered  good  cover  for 
a  stalk;  but  we  had  to  crawl  so  slowly,  partly  to 
avoid  falling,  and  partly  to  avoid  detaching  loose 
rocks,  that  it  was  nearly  an  hour  before  we  got  in 


VOL.  I. — 10 


14^  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

a  favorable  position  above  them,  and  some  seventy 
yards  off.  The  frost-disintegrated  mountains  in 
which  they  Hve  are  always  sending  down  showers 
of  detached  stones,  so  that  the  goats  are  not  very 
sensitive  to  this  noise;  still,  they  sometimes  pay 
instantaneous  heed  to  it,  especially  if  the  sound  is 
repeated. 

When  I  peeped  over  the  little  ledge  of  rock, 
shoving  my  rifle  carefully  ahead  of  me,  I  found 
that  the  goats  had  finished  feeding  and  were  pre- 
paring to  leave  the  slope.  The  old  billy  saw  me  at 
once,  but  evidently  could  not  quite  make  me  out. 
Thereupon,  gazing  intently  at  me,  he  rose  gravely 
on  his  haunches,  sitting  up  almost  in  the  attitude 
of  a  dog  when  begging.  I  know  no  other  homed 
animal  that  ever  takes  this  position. 

As  I  fired  he  rolled  backwards,  slipped  down  the 
grassy  slope,  and  tumbled  over  the  brink  of  the 
cliff,  while  the  other  two,  a  she  and  a  kid,  after  a 
moment's  panic-struck  pause,  and  a  bewildered 
rush  in  the  wrong  direction,  made  off  up  a  little 
rocky  gully,  and  were  out  of  sight  in  a  moment. 
To  my  chagrin,  when  I  finally  reached  the  carcass, 
after  a  tedious  and  circuitous  climb  to  the  foot  of 
the  cliff,  I  found  both  horns  broken  off. 

It  was  late  in  the  afternoon,  and  we  clambered 
down  to  the  border  of  a  little  marshy  alpine  lake, 
which  we  reached  in  an  hour  or  so.  Here  we 
made  our  camp,  about  sunset,  in  a  grove  of  stunted 


The  White-Goat  147 

spruces,  which  furnished  plenty  of  dead  timber 
for  the  fire.  There  were  many  white-goat  trails 
leading  to  this  lake,  and  from  the  slide  rock  round- 
about we  heard  the  shrill  whistling  of  hoary  rock- 
woodchucks,  and  the  querulous  notes  of  the  little 
conies — two  of  the  sounds  most  familiar  to  the 
white-goat  hunter.  These  conies  had  gathered 
heaps  of  dried  plants,  and  had  stowed  them  care- 
fully away  for  winter  use  in  the  cracks  between  the 
rocks. 

While  descending  the  mountain  we  came  on  a 
little  pack  of  snow  grouse  or  mountain  ptarmigan, 
birds  which,  save  in  winter,  are  always  found 
above  timber  line.  They  were  tame  and  fearless, 
though  hard  to  make  out  as  they  ran  among  the 
rocks,  cackling  noisily,  with  their  tails  cocked 
aloft;  and  we  had  no  difficulty  in  killing  four, 
which  gave  us  a  good  breakfast  and  supper.  Old 
white-goats  are  intolerably  musky  in  flavor,  there 
being  a  very  large  musk-pod  between  the  horn  and 
ear.  The  kids  are  eatable,  but  of  course  are  rarely 
killed ;  the  shot  being  usually  taken  at  the  animal 
with  best  horns — and  the  shes  and  young  of  any 
game  should  only  be  killed  when  there  is  a  real 
necessity. 

These  two  htints  may  be  taken  as  samples  of 
most  expeditions  after  white-goat.  There  are 
places  where  the  goats  live  in  mountains  close  to 
bodies  of  water,  either  ocean  fiords  or  large  lakes ; 


hS         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

and  in  such  places  canoes  can  be  used,  to  the 
greatly  increased  comfort  and  lessened  labor  of 
the  hunters.  In  other  places,  where  the  moun- 
tains are  low  and  the  goats  spend  all  the  year  in 
the  timber,  a  pack-train  can  be  taken  right  up  to 
the  hunting-grotmds.  But  generally  one  must  go 
on  foot,  carrying  everything  on  one's  back,  and  at 
night  lying  out  in  the  open  or  under  a  brush  lean- 
.to;  meanwhile  living  on  spruce  grouse  and  ptar- 
migan, with  an  occasional  meal  of  trout,  and  in 
times  of  scarcity  squirrels,  or  anything  else.  Such 
a  trip  entails  severe  fatigue  and  not  a  little  hard- 
ship. The  actual  hunting,  also,  implies  difficult 
and  laborious  climbing,  for  the  goats  live  by  choice 
among  the  highest  and  most  inaccessible  moun- 
tains; though  where  they  are  found,  as  they 
sometimes  are,  in  comparatively  low  forest-clad 
ranges,  I  have  occasionally  killed  them  with  little 
trouble  by  lying  in  wait  beside  the  well-trodden 
game  trails  they  make  in  the  timber. 

In  any  event  the  hard  work  is  to  get  up  to  the 
grounds  where  the  game  is  found.  Once  the  ani- 
mals are  spied  there  is  but  little  call  for  the  craft 
of  the  still-hunter  in  approaching  them.  Of  all 
American  game  the  white-goat  is  the  least  wary 
and  most  stupid.  In  places  where  it  is  much 
hunted  it  of  course  gradually  grows  wilder  and 
becomes  difficult  to  approach  and  kill ;  and  much 
of  its  silly  tameness  is  doubtless  due  to  the  in- 


The  White-Goat  149 

accessible  nature  of  its  haunts,  which  renders  it 
ordinarily  free  from  molestation;  but  aside  from 
this  it  certainly  seems  as  if  it  was  naturally  less 
wary  than  either  deer  or  mountain  sheep.  The 
great  point  is  to  get  above  it.  All  its  foes  live  in 
the  valleys,  and  while  it  is  in  the  mountains,  if 
they  strive  to  approach  it  at  all,  they  must  do  so 
from  below.  It  is  in  consequence  always  on  the 
watch  for  danger  from  beneath;  but  it  is  easily 
approached  from  above,  and  then,  as  it  generally 
tries  to  escape  by  running  up  hill,  the  hunter  is 
very  apt  to  get  a  shot. 

Its  chase  is  thus  laborious  rather  than  exciting ; 
and  to  my  mind  it  is  less  attractive  than  is  the 
pursuit  of  most  of  our  other  game.  Yet  it  has  an 
attraction  of  its  own  after  all ;  while  the  grandeur 
of  the  scenery  amid  which  it  must  be  carried  on, 
the  freedom  and  hardihood  of  the  life  and  the 
pleasure  of  watching  the  queer  habits  of  the  game, 
all  combine  to  add  to  the  hunter's  enjoyment. 

White-goats  are  self-confident,  pugnacious  be- 
ings. An  old  billy,  if  he  discovers  the  presence  of 
a  foe  without  being  quite  sure  what  it  is,  often  re- 
fuses to  take  flight,  but  walks  around,  stamping, 
and  shaking  his  head.  The  needle-pointed  black 
horns  are  alike  in  both  sexes,  save  that  the  males' 
are  a  trifle  thicker;  and  they  are  most  effective 
weapons  when  wielded  by  the  muscular  neck  of  a 
resolute  and  wicked  old  goat.     They  wound  like 


150         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

stilettos,  and  their  bearer  is  in  consequence  a 
much  more  formidable  foe  in  a  hand-to-hand 
struggle  than  either  a  branching-antlered  deer  or 
a  mountain  ram,  with  his  great  battering  head. 
The  goat  does  not  butt;  he  thrusts.  If  he  can 
cover  his  back  by  a  tree  trunk  or  boulder  he  can 
stand  off  most  carnivorous  animals,  no  larger  than 
he  is. 

Though  awkward  in  movement,  and  lacking  all 
semblance  of  lightness  or  agility,  goats  are  excel- 
lent climbers.  One  of  their  queer  traits  is  their 
way  of  getting  their  fore  hoofs  on  a  slight  ledge, 
and  then  drawing  or  lifting  their  bodies  up  by 
simple  muscular  exertion,  stretching  out  their 
elbows,  much  as  a  man  would.  They  do  a  good 
deal  of  their  climbing  by  strength  and  command 
over  their  muscles ;  although  they  are  also  capable 
of  making  astonishing  bounds.  If  a  cliff  surface 
has  the  least  slope,  and  shows  any  inequalities  or 
roughness  whatever,  goats  can  go  up  and  down  it 
with  ease.  With  their  short,  stout  legs,  and  large, 
sharp-edged  hoofs  they  clamber  well  over  ice, 
passing  and  repassing  the  mountains  at  a  time 
when  no  man  would  so  much  as  crawl  over  them. 
They  bear  extreme  cold  with  indifference,  but  are 
intolerant  of  much  heat ;  even  when  the  weather  is 
cool  they  are  apt  to  take  their  noontide  rest  in 
caves;  I  have  seen  them  solemnly  retiring,  for 
this  purpose,  to  great  rents  in  the  rocks  at  a  time 


The  White-Goat  151 

when  my  own  teeth  chattered  because  of  the  icy 
wind. 

They  go  in  small  flocks;  sometimes  in  pairs 
or  little  family  parties.  After  the  rut  the  bucks 
often  herd  by  themselves,  or  go  off  alone,  while 
the  young  and  the  shes  keep  together  throughout 
the  winter  and  the  spring.  The  young  are  gen- 
erally brought  forth  above  timber  line,  or  at  its 
uppermost  edge,  save,  of  course,  in  those  places 
where  the  goats  live  among  mountains  wooded  to 
the  top.  Throughout  the  summer  they  graze  on 
the  short  mountain  plants  which  in  many  places 
form  regular  mats  above  timber  line;  the  deep 
winter  snows  drive  them  low  down  in  the  wooded 
valleys,  and  force  them  to  subsist  by  browsing. 
They  are  so  strong  that  they  plough  their  way 
readily  through  deep  drifts;  and  a  flock  of  goats 
at  this  season,  when  their  white  coat  is  very  long 
and  thick,  if  seen  waddling  off  through  the  snow, 
have  a  comical  likeness  to  so  many  diminutive 
polar  bears.  Of  course  they  could  easily  be  run 
down  in  the  snow  by  a  man  on  snow-shoes,  in  the 
plain;  but  on  a  mountain-side  there  are  always 
bare  rocks  and  cliff  shoulders,  glassy  with  winter 
ice,  which  give  either  goats  or  sheep  an  advantage 
over  their  snowshoe-bearing  foes  that  deer  and 
elk  lack.  Whenever  the  goats  pass  the  winter  in 
woodland  they  leave  plenty  of  sign  in  the  shape  of 
patches  of  wool  clinging  to  all  the  sharp  twigs  and 


152         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

branches  against  which  they  have  brushed.  In 
the  spring  they  often  form  the  habit  of  drinking  at 
certain  low  pools,  to  which  they  beat  deep  paths ; 
and  at  this  season,  and  to  a  less  extent  in  the  sum- 
mer and  fall,  they  are  very  fond  of  frequenting 
mineral  licks.  At  any  such  lick  the  ground  is 
tramped  bare  of  vegetation,  and  is  filled  with  pits 
and  hollows,  actually  dug  by  the  tongues  of  in- 
numerable generations  of  animals ;  while  the  game 
paths  lead  from  them  in  a  dozen  directions. 

In  spite  of  the  white-goat's  pugnacity,  its  clum- 
siness renders  it  no  very  difficult  prey  when  taken 
unawares  by  either  wolf  or  cougar,  its  two  chief 
enemies.  They  cannot  often  catch  it  when  it  is 
above  timber  line;  but  it  is  always  in  sore  peril 
from  them  when  it  ventures  into  the  forest.  Bears, 
also,  prey  upon  it  in  the  early  spring;  and  one 
midwinter  my  friend  Willis  found  a  wolverine  eat- 
ing a  goat  which  it  had  killed  in  a  snowdrift  at  the 
foot  of  a  cliff.  The  savage  little  beast  growled 
and  showed  fight  when  he  came  near  the  body. 
Eagles  are  great  enemies  of  the  young  kids,  as  they 
are  of  the  young  lambs  of  the  bighorns. 

The  white-goat  is  the  only  game  beast  of  Amer- 
ica which  has  not  decreased  in  numbers  since  the 
arrival  of  the  white  man.  Although  in  certain 
localities  it  is  now  decreasing,  yet,  taken  as  a 
whole,  it  is  probably  quite  as  plentiful  now  as  it 
was  fifty  years  back ;  for  in  the  early  part  of  the 


The  White-Goat  153 

present  century  there  were  Indian  tribes  who 
hunted  it  perseveringly  to  make  the  skins  into 
robes,  whereas  now  they  get  blankets  from  the 
traders  and  no  longer  persecute  the  goats.  The 
early  trappers  and  mountain-men  knew  but  little 
of  the  animal.  Whether  they  were  after  beaver, 
or  were  hunting  big  game,  or  were  merely  ex- 
ploring, they  kept  to  the  valleys ;  there  was  no  in- 
ducement for  them  to  climb  to  the  tops  of  the 
mountains;  so  it  resulted  that  there  was  no  ani- 
mal with  which  the  old  hunters  were  so  un- 
familiar as  with  the  white-goat.  The  professional 
hunters  of  to-day  likewise  bother  it  but  little; 
they  do  not  care  to  undergo  severe  toil  for  an  ani- 
mal with  worthless  flesh  and  a  hide  of  little  value — 
for  it  is  only  in  the  late  fall  and  winter  that  the 
long  hair  and  fine  wool  give  the  robe  any  beauty. 

So  the  quaint,  sturdy,  musky  beasts,  with  their 
queer  and  awkward  ways,  their  boldness  and  their 
stupidity,  with  their  white  coats  and  big  black 
hoofs,  black  muzzles,  and  sharp,  gently-curved, 
span-long  black  horns,  have  held  their  own  well 
among  the  high  mountains  that  they  love.  In  the 
Rockies  and  the  Coast  ranges  they  abound  from 
Alaska  south  to  Montana,  Idaho,  and  Washington ; 
and  here  and  there  isolated  colonies  are  found 
among  the  high  mountains  to  the  southward,  in 
Wyoming,  Colorado,  even  in  New  Mexico,  and, 
strangest  of  all,  in  one  or  two  spots  among  the 


154         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

barren  coast  raountains  of  southern  California. 
Long  after  the  elk  has  followed  the  buffalo  to  the 
happy  hunting-grounds  the  white-goat  will  flourish 
among  the  towering  and  glacier-riven  peaks,  and, 
grown  wary  with  succeeding  generations,  will  fur- 
nish splendid  sport  to  those  hunters  who  are  both 
good  riflemen  and  hardy  cragsmen. 


CHAPTER  VIII 

HUNTING    IN   THE    SELKIRKS ;     THE    CARIBOU 

IN  September,  1888,  I  was  camped  on  the  shores 
of  Kootenai  Lake,  having  with  me,  as  com- 
panions, John  WilHs  and  an  impassive-look- 
ing Indian  named  Ammal.  Coming  across  through 
the  dense  coniferous  forests  of  northern  Idaho  we 
had  struck  the  Kootenai  River.  Then  we  went 
down  with  the  current  as  it  wound  in  half  circles 
through  a  long  alluvial  valley  of  mixed  marsh  and 
woodland,  hemmed  in  by  lofty  mountains.  The 
lake  itself,  when  we  reached  it,  stretched  straight 
away  like  a  great  fiord,  a  hundred  miles  long  and 
about  three  in  breadth.  The  frowning  and  rugged 
Selkirks  came  down  sheer  to  the  water's  edge.  So 
straight  were  the  rock  walls  that  it  was  difficult 
for  us  to  land  with  our  batteau,  save  at  the  places 
where  the  rapid  mountain  torrents  entered  the 
lake.  As  these  streams  of  swift  water  broke  from 
their  narrow  gorges  they  made  little  deltas  of  level 
ground,  with  beaches  of  fine  white  sand ;  and  the 
stream  banks  were  edged  with  cottonwood  and 
poplar,  their  shimmering  foliage  relieving  the 
sombre  coloring  of  the  evergreen  forest. 

155 


15^         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

Close  to  such  a  brook,  from  which  we  drew 
strings  of  large  silver  trout,  our  tent  was  pitched, 
just  within  the  forest.  From  between  the  trunks 
of  two  gnarled,  wind-beaten  trees,  a  pine  and  a  Cot- 
tonwood, we  looked  out  across  the  lake.  The  little 
bay  in  our  front,  in  which  we  bathed  and  swam, 
was  sometimes  glassily  calm;  and  again  heavy 
wind-squalls  arose,  and  the  surf  beat  strongly 
on  the  beach  where  our  boat  was  drawn  up.  Now 
and  then  great  checker-back  loons  drifted  buoy- 
antly by,  stopping  with  bold  curiosity  to  peer  at 
the  white  tent  gleaming  between  the  tree-trunks, 
and  at  the  smoke  curling  above  their  tops;  and 
they  called  to  one  another,  both  at  dawn  and  in 
the  daytime,  with  shrieks  of  unearthly  laughter. 
Troops  of  noisy,  parti-colored  Clarke  crows  circled 
over  the  tree-tops  or  hung  from  among  the  pine 
cones ;  jays  and  chickadees  came  round  camp,  and 
woodpeckers  hammered  lustily  in  the  dead  timber. 
Two  or  three  times  parties  of  Indians  passed  down 
the  lake,  in  strangely  shaped  bark  canoes,  with 
peaked,  projecting  prows  and  sterns ;  craft  utterly 
unlike  the  graceful,  feather-floating  birches  so  be- 
loved by  both  the  red  and  the  white  woodsmen  of 
the  northeast.  Once  a  couple  of  white  men,  in  a 
dug-out  or  pirogue  made  out  of  a  cottonwood  log, 
stopped  to  get  lunch.  They  were  mining  pros- 
pectors, French-Canadians  by  birth,  but  beaten 
into  the  usual  frontier-mining  stamp ;  doomed  to 


Hunting  in  the  Selkirks  157 

wander  their  lives  long,  ever  hoping,  in  the  quest 
for  metal  wealth. 

With  these  exceptions  there  was  nothing  to 
break  the  silent  loneliness  of  the  great  lake. 
Shrouded  as  we  were  in  the  dense  forest,  and  at 
the  foot  of  the  first  steep  hills,  we  could  see  nothing 
of  the  country  on  the  side  where  we  were  camped ; 
but  across  the  water  the  immense  mountain  masses 
stretched  away  from  our  vision,  range  upon  range, 
until  they  turned  to  a  glittering  throng  of  ice- 
peaks  and  snow-fields,  the  feeding  beds  of  glaciers. 
Between  the  lake  and  the  snow  range  were  chains 
of  gray  rock-peaks,  and  the  mountain-sides  and 
valleys  were  covered  by  the  primeval  forest.  The 
woods  were  on  fire  across  the  lake  from  our  camp, 
burning  steadily.  At  night  the  scene  was  very 
grand,  as  the  fire  worked  slowly  across  the  moun- 
tain-sides in  immense  zigzags  of  quivering  red; 
while  at  times  isolated  pines  of  unusual  size  kin- 
dled, and  flamed  for  hours,  like  the  torches  of  a 
giant.  Finally  the  smoke  grew  so  thick  as  to 
screen  from  our  view  the  grand  landscape  op- 
posite. 

We  had  come  down  from  a  week's  fruitless  hunt- 
ing in  the  mountains ;  a  week  of  excessive  toil,  in 
a  country  where  we  saw  no  game — for  in  our  ig- 
norance we  had  wasted  time,  not  going  straight 
back  to  the  high  ranges,  from  which  the  game  had 
not  yet  descended.      After  three  or  four  days  of 


158         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

rest,  and  of  feasting  on  trout — a  welcome  relief  to 
the  monotony  of  frying-pan  bread  and  coarse 
salt  pork — we  were  ready  for  another  trial;  and 
early  one  morning  we  made  the  start.  Having  to 
pack  everything  for  a  fortnight's  use  on  our  backs, 
through  an  excessively  rough  country,  we,  of 
course,  travelled  as  light  as  possible,  leaving  al- 
most all  we  had  with  the  tent  and  boat.  Each 
took  his  own  blanket ;  and  among  us  we  carried  a 
frying-pan,  a  teapot,  flour,  pork,  salt,  tea,  and 
matches.  I  also  took  a  jacket,  a  spare  pair  of 
socks,  some  handkerchiefs,  and  my  washing  kit. 
Fifty  cartridges  in  my  belt  completed  my  outfit. 

We  walked  in  single  file,  as  is  necessary  in  thick 
woods.  The  white  hunter  led  and  I  followed, 
each  with  rifle  on  shoulder  and  pack  on  back. 
Ammdl,  the  Indian,  pigeon-toed  along  behind, 
carrying  his  pack,  not  as  we  did  ours,  but  by  help 
of  a  forehead- band,  which  he  sometimes  shifted 
across  his  breast.  The  travelling  through  the 
tangled,  brush-choked  forest,  and  along  the  boul- 
der-strewn and  precipitous  mountain-sides,  was 
inconceivably  rough  and  difficult.  In  places  we 
followed  the  valley,  and  when  this  became  im- 
possible we  struck  across  the  spurs.  Every  step 
was  severe  toil.  Now  we  walked  through  deep 
moss  and  rotting  mould,  every  few  feet  clamber- 
ing over  huge  trunks ;  again  we  pushed  through  a 
stiff  jungle  of  bushes  and  tall,  prickly  plants — 


Hunting  in  the  Selkirks  159 

called  "devil's  clubs," — which  stung  our  hands 
and  faces.  Up  the  almost  perpendicular  hill- 
sides we  in  many  places  went  practically  on  all 
fours,  forcing  our  way  over  the  rocks  and  through 
the  dense  thickets  of  laurels  or  young  spruce. 
Where  there  were  windfalls  or  great  stretches  of 
burnt  forest,  black  and  barren  wastes,  we  balanced 
and  leaped  from  log  to  log,  sometimes  twenty  or 
thirty  feet  above  the  ground;  and  when  such  a 
stretch  was  on  a  steep  hillside,  and  especially  if 
the  logs  were  enveloped  in  a  thick  second  growth 
of  small  evergreens,  the  footing  was  very  insecure 
and  the  danger  from  a  fall  considerable.  Our 
packs  added  greatly  to  our  labor,  catching  on  the 
snags  and  stubs;  and  where  a  grove  of  thick- 
growing  young  spruces  or  balsams  had  been 
burned,  the  stiff  and  brittle  twigs  pricked  like  so 
much  coral.  Most  difficult  of  all  were  the  dry 
watercourses,  choked  with  alders,  where  the  in- 
tertwined tangle  of  tough  stems  formed  an  almost 
literally  impenetrable  barrier  to  our  progress. 
Nearly  every  movement — leaping,  climbing,  swing- 
ing one's  self  up  with  one's  hands,  bursting 
through  stiff  bushes,  plunging  into  and  out  of 
bogs — was  one  of  strain  and  exertion ;  the  fatigue 
was  tremendous  and  steadily  continued,  so  that 
in  an  hour  every  particle  of  clothing  I  had  on  was 
wringing  wet  with  sweat. 

At  noon  we  halted  beside  a  little  brook  for  a  bite 


i6o         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

of  lunch — a  chunk  of  cold  frying-pan  bread,  which 
was  all  we  had. 

While  at  lunch  I  made  a  capture.  I  was  sitting 
on  a  great  stone  by  the  edge  of  the  brook,  idly 
gazing  at  a  water- wren  which  had  come  up  from  a 
short  flight — I  can  call  it  nothing  else — under- 
neath the  water,  and  was  singing  sweetly  from  a 
spray-splashed  log.  Suddenly  a  small  animal 
swam  across  the  little  pool  at  my  feet.  It  was  less 
in  size  than  a  mouse,  and  as  it  paddled  rapidly 
underneath  the  water  its  body  seemed  flattened 
like  a  disc,  and  was  spangled  with  tiny  bubbles, 
like  specks  of  silver.  It  was  a  water-shrew,  a  rare 
little  beast.  I  sat  motionless  and  watched  both 
the  shrew  and  the  water- wren — water-ousel,  as  it 
should  rightly  be  named.  The  latter,  emboldened 
by  my  quiet,  presently  flew  by  me  to  a  little  rapids 
close  at  hand,  lighting  on  a  round  stone,  and  then 
slipping  unconcernedly  into  the  swift  water.  Anon 
he  emerged,  stood  on  another  stone,  and  trilled  a 
few  bars,  though  it  was  late  in  the  season  for  sing- 
ing; and  then  dove  again  into  the  stream.  I 
gazed  at  him  eagerly;  for  this  strange,  pretty 
water-thrush  is  to  me  one  of  the  most  attractive 
and  interesting  birds  to  be  found  in  the  gorges  of 
the  great  Rockies.  Its  haunts  are  romantically 
beautiful,  for  it  always  dwells  beside  and  in  the 
swift-flowing  mountain  brooks ;  it  has  a  singularly 
sweet  song ;  and  its  ways  render  it  a  marked  bird 


Hunting  in  the  Selkirks  i6i 

at  once,  for  though  looking  much  like  a  sober- 
colored,  ordinary  woodland  thrush,  it  spends  half 
its  time  under  the  water,  walking  along  the  bot- 
tom, swimming  and  diving,  and  flitting  through 
as  well  as  over  the  cataracts. 

In  a  minute  or  two  the  shrew  caught  my  eye 
again.  It  got  into  a  little  shallow  eddy  and 
caught  a  minute  fish,  which  it  carried  to  a  half- 
sunken  stone  and  greedily  devoured,  tugging 
voraciously  at  it  as  it  held  it  down  with  its  paws. 
Then  its  evil  genius  drove  it  into  a  small  puddle 
alongside  the  brook,  where  I  instantly  pounced  on 
and  slew  it ;  for  I  knew  a  friend  in  the  Smithsonian 
at  Washington  who  would  have  coveted  it  greatly. 
It  was  a  soft,  pretty  creature,  dark  above,  snow- 
white  below,  with  a  very  long  tail.  I  turned  the 
skin  inside  out  and  put  a  bent  twig  in,  that  it 
might  dry ;  while  Ammal,  who  had  been  intensely 
interested  in  the  chase  and  capture,  meditatively 
shook  his  head  and  said  "  wagh,"  unable  to  fathom 
the  white  man's  medicine.  However,  my  labor 
came  to  nought,  for  that  evening  I  laid  the  skin 
out  on  a  log,  Ammal  threw  the  log  into  the  fire, 
and  that  was  the  end  of  the  shrew. 

When  this  interlude  was  over  we  resumed  our 
march,  toiling  silently  onwards  through  the  wild 
and  rugged  country.  Towards  evening  the  valley 
widened  a  little,  and  we  were  able  to  walk  in  the 
bottoms,  which  much  lightened  our  labor.     The 


VOL.  I. — II. 


i62         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

hunter,  for  greater  ease,  had  tied  the  thongs  of 
his  heavy  pack  across  his  breast,  so  that  he  could 
not  use  his  rifle ;  but  my  pack  was  lighter,  and  I 
carried  it  in  a  manner  that  would  not  interfere 
with  my  shooting,  lest  we  should  come  unawares 
on  game. 

It  was  well  that  I  did  so.  An  hour  or  two  be- 
fore sunset  we  were  travelling,  as  usual,  in  Indian 
file,  beside  the  stream,  through  an  open  wood  of 
great  hemlock  trees.  There  was  no  breeze,  and 
we  made  no  sound  as  we  marched,  for  our  feet 
sunk  noiselessly  into  the  deep  sponge  of  moss, 
while  the  incessant  dashing  of  the  torrent,  churn- 
ing among  the  stones,  would  have  drowned  a  far 
louder  advance. 

Suddenly  the  hunter,  who  was  leading,  dropped 
down  in  his  tracks,  pointing  forward;  and  some 
fifty  feet  beyond  I  saw  the  head  and  shoulders  of 
a  bear  as  he  rose  to  make  a  sweep  at  some  berries. 
He  was  in  a  hollow  where  a  tall,  rank,  prickly 
plant,  with  broad  leaves,  grew  luxuriantly;  and 
he  was  gathering  its  red  berries,  rising  on  his  hind 
legs  and  sweeping  them  down  into  his  mouth  with 
his  paw,  and  was  much  too  intent  on  his  work  to 
notice  us,  for  his  head  was  pointed  the  other  way. 
The  moment  he  rose  again  I  fired,  meaning  to 
shoot  through  the  shoulders,  but  instead,  in  the 
hurry,  taking  him  in  the  neck.  Down  he  went, 
but  whether  hurt  or  not  we  could  not  see,  for  the 


Hunting  in  the  Selkirks  163 

second  he  was  on  all  fours  lie  was  no  longer  visible. 
Rather  to  my  surprise  he  uttered  no  sound — for 
bear  when  hit  or  when  charging  often  make  a  great 
noise — so  I  raced  forward  to  the  edge  of  the  hollow, 
the  hunter  close  behind  me,  while  Ammal  danced 
about  in  the  rear,  very  much  excited,  as  Indians 
always  are  in  the  presence  of  big  game.  The  in- 
stant we  reached  the  hollow  and  looked  down  into 
it  from  the  low  bank  on  which  we  stood  we  saw  by 
the  swaying  of  the  tall  plants  that  the  bear  was 
coming  our  way.  The  hunter  was  standing  some 
ten  feet  distant,  a  hemlock  trunk  being  between 
us;  and  the  next  moment  the  bear  sprang  clean 
up  the  bank  the  other  side  of  the  hemlock,  and 
almost  within  arm's  length  of  my  companion.  I 
do  not  think  he  had  intended  to  charge;  he  was 
probably  confused  by  the  bullet  through  his  neck, 
and  had  by  chance  blundered  out  of  the  hollow  in 
our  direction;  but  when  he  saw  the  hunter  so 
close  he  turned  for  him,  his  hair  bristling  and  his 
teeth  showing.  The  man  had  no  cartridge  in  his 
weapon,  and  with  his  pack  on  could  not  have 
used  it  anyhow ;  and  for  a  moment  it  looked  as  if 
he  stood  a  fair  chance  of  being  hurt,  though  it  is 
not  likely  that  the  bear  would  have  done  more 
than  knock  him  down  with  his  powerful  fore  paw, 
or  perchance  give  him  a  single  bite  in  passing. 
However,  as  the  beast  sprang  out  of  the  hollow 
he  poised  for  a  second  on  the  edge  of  the  bank  to 


1 64         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

recover  his  balance,  giving  me  a  beautiful  shot,  as 
he  stood  sideways  to  me;  the  bullet  struck  be- 
tween the  eye  and  ear,  and  he  fell  as  if  hit  with  a 
pole-axe. 

Immediately  the  Indian  began  jumping  about 
the  body,  uttering  wild  yells,  his  usually  impas- 
sive face  lit  up  with  excitement,  while  the  hunter 
and  I  stood  at  rest,  leaning  on  our  rifles,  and 
laughing.  It  was  a  strange  scene,  the  dead  bear 
lying  in  the  shade  of  the  giant  hemlocks,  while 
the  fantastic-looking  savage  danced  round  him 
with  shrill  whoops,  and  the  tall  frontiersman 
looked  qtiietly  on. 

Our  prize  was  a  large  black  bear,  with  two  curi- 
ous brown  streaks  down  his  back,  one  on  each  side 
the  spine.  We  skinned  him  and  camped  by  the 
carcass,  as  it  was  growing  late.  To  take  the  chill 
oif  the  evening  air  we  built  a  huge  fire,  the  logs 
roaring  and  crackling.  To  one  side  of  it  we  made 
our  beds — of  balsam  and  hemlock  boughs;  we 
did  not  build  a  brush  lean-to,  because  the  night 
seemed  likely  to  be  clear.  Then  we  supped  on 
sugarless  tea,  frying-pan  bread,  and  quantities  of 
bear  meat,  fried  or  roasted — and  how  very  good 
it  tasted  only  those  know  who  have  gone  through 
much  hardship  and  some  little  hunger,  and  have 
worked  violently  for  several  days  without  flesh 
food.  After  eating  our  fill  we  stretched  ourselves 
around  the  fire ;  the  leaping  sheets  of  flame  lit  the 


The  Caribou  165 

tree-trunks  round  about,  causing  them  to  start 
out  against  the  cavernous  blackness  beyond,  and 
reddened  the  interlacing  branches  that  formed  a 
canopy  overhead.  The  Indian  sat  on  his  haunches 
gazing  steadily  and  silently  into  the  pile  of  blazing 
logs,  while  the  white  hunter  and  I  talked  together. 

The  morning  after  killing  Bruin,  we  again  took 
up  our  march,  heading  up  stream,  that  we  might 
go  to  its  sources  amidst  the  mountains,  where  the 
snow-fields  fed  its  springs.  It  was  two  full  days' 
journey  thither,  but  we  took  much  longer  to  make 
it,  as  we  kept  halting  to  hunt  the  adjoining  moun- 
tains. On  such  occasions  Ammal  was  left  as  camp 
guard,  while  the  white  hunter  and  I  would  start 
by  daybreak  and  return  at  dark  utterly  worn  out 
by  the  excessive  fatigue.  We  knew  nothing  of 
caribou,  nor  where  to  hunt  for  them;  and  we  had 
been  told  that  thus  early  in  the  season  they  were 
above  tree  limit  on  the  mountain-sides.  Accord- 
ingly we  would  climb  up  to  the  limits  of  the  for- 
ests, but  never  found  a  caribou  trail ;  and  once  or 
twice  we  went  on  to  the  summits  of  the  crag-peaks, 
and  across  the  deep  snow-fields  in  the  passes. 
There  were  plenty  of  white-goats,  however,  their 
trails  being  broad  paths,  especially  at  one  spot 
where  they  led  down  to  a  lick  in  the  valley ;  round 
the  lick,  for  a  space  of  many  yards,  the  ground 
was  trampled  as  if  in  a  sheepfold. 

The  moimtains  were  very  steep,  and  the  climbing 


i66  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

was  in  places  dangerous,  when  we  were  above 
the  timber  and  had  to  make  our  way  along  the 
jagged  knife-crests  and  across  the  faces  of  the 
cliffs ;  while  our  hearts  beat  as  if  about  to  burst  in 
the  high,  thin  air.  In  walking  over  rough  but  not 
dangerous  ground — across  slides  or  in  thick  tim- 
ber— my  companion  was  far  more  skilful  than  I 
was;  but  rather  to  my  surprise  I  proved  to  be 
nearly  as  good  as  he  when  we  came  to  the  really 
dangerous  places,  where  we  had  to  go  slowly,  and 
let  one  another  down  from  ledge  to  ledge,  or  crawl 
by  narrow  cracks  across  the  rock  walls. 

The  view  from  the  summits  was  magnificent, 
and  I  never  tired  of  gazing  at  it.  Sometimes  the 
sky  was  a  dome  of  blue  crystal,  and  mountain, 
lake,  and  valley  lay  spread  in  startling  clearness 
at  our  very  feet ;  and  again  snow-peak  and  rock- 
peak  were  thrust  up  like  islands  through  a  sea  of 
billowy  clouds.  At  the  feet  of  the  topmost  peaks, 
just  above  the  edge  of  the  forest,  were  marshy  al- 
pine valleys,  the  boggy  ground  soaked  with  water, 
and  small  bushes  or  stunted  trees  fringing  the  icy 
lakes.  In  the  stony  mountain-sides  surrounding 
these  lakes  there  were  hoary  woodchucks,  and 
conies.  The  former  resembled  in  their  habits  the 
alpine  marmot,  rather  than  our  own  common  east- 
em  woodchuck.  They  lived  alone  or  in  couples 
among  the  rocks,  their  gray  color  often  making 
them  difficult  to   see  as  they  crouched  at  the 


The  Caribou  167 

mouths  of  their  burrows,  or  sat  bolt  upright ;  and 
as  an  alarm  note  they  uttered  a  loud  piercing 
whistle,  a  strong  contrast  to  the  querulous,  plain- 
tive *'p-a-a-y"  of  the  timid  conies.  These  like- 
wise loved  to  dwell  where  the  stones  and  slabs  of 
rock  were  heaped  on  one  another ;  though  so  timid, 
they  were  not  nearly  as  wary  as  the  woodchucks. 
If  we  stood  quite  still  the  little  brown  creatures 
would  venture  away  from  their  holes  and  hop 
softly  over  the  rocks  as  if  we  were  not  present. 

The  white-goats  were  too  musky  to  eat,  and  we 
saw  nothing  else  to  shoot ;  so  we  speedily  became 
reduced  to  tea,  and  to  bread  baked  in  the  frying- 
pan,  save  every  now  and  then  for  a  feast  on 
the  luscious  mountain  blueberries.  This  rather 
meagre  diet,  coupled  with  incessant  fatigue  and 
exertion,  made  us  fairly  long  for  meat  food;  and 
we  fell  off  in  flesh,  though  of  course  in  so  short  a 
time  we  did  not  suffer  in  either  health  or  strength. 
Fortunately,  the  nights  were  too  cool  for  mos- 
quitoes ;  but  once  or  twice  in  the  afternoons,  while 
descending  the  lower  slopes  of  the  mountains,  we 
were  much  bothered  by  swarms  of  gnats;  they 
worried  us  greatly,  usually  attacking  us  at  a  time 
when  we  had  to  go  fast  in  order  to  reach  camp  be- 
fore dark,  while  the  roughness  of  the  ground 
forced  us  to  use  both  hands  in  climbing,  and  thus 
forbade  us  to  shield  our  faces  from^  our  tiny  tor- 
mentors.   Our  chief  luxury  was,  at  the  end  of  the 


i68         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

day,  when  footsore  and  weary,  to  cast  aside  our 
sweat-drenched  clothes  and  plunge  into  the  icy 
mountain  torrent  for  a  moment's  bath  that  fresh- 
ened us  as  if  by  magic.  The  nights  were  generally 
pleasant,  and  we  slept  soundly  on  our  beds  of 
balsam  boughs,  but  once  or  twice  there  were 
sharp  frosts,  and  it  was  so  cold  that  the  hunter  and 
I  huddled  together  for  warmth,  and  kept  the  fires 
going  till  morning.  One  day,  when  we  were  on 
the  march,  it  rained  heavily,  and  we  were  soaked 
through  and  stiff  and  chilly  when  we  pitched 
camp ;  but  we  speedily  built  a  great  brush  lean-to, 
made  a  roaring  fire  in  front,  and  grew  once  more 
to  warmth  and  comfort  as  we  sat  under  our  steam- 
ing shelter.  The  only  discomfort  we  really  minded 
was  an  occasional  night  in  wet  blankets. 

In  the  evening  the  Indian  and  the  white  hunter 
played  interminable  games  of  seven-up  with  a 
greasy  pack  of  cards.  In  the  course  of  his  varied 
life  the  hunter  had  been  a  professional  gambler; 
and  he  could  have  easily  won  all  the  Indian's 
money,  the  more  speedily  inasmuch  as  the  un- 
tutored red  man  was  always  attempting  to  cheat, 
and  was  thus  giving  his  far  more  skilful  opponent 
a  certain  right  to  try  some  similar  deviltry  in  re- 
turn. However,  it  was  distinctly  understood  that 
there  should  be  no  gambling,  for  I  did  not  wish 
Ammal  to  lose  all  his  wages  while  in  my  employ ; 
and  the  white  man  stood  loyally  by  his  agreement. 


The  Caribou  169 

Ammdl's  people,  just  before  I  engaged  him,  had 
been  visited  by  their  brethren,  the  Upper  Koote- 
nais,  and  in  a  series  of  gambhng  matches  had  lost 
about  all  their  belongings. 

Ammal  himself  was  one  of  the  Lower  Kootenais ; 
I  had  hired  him  for  the  trip,  as  the  Indians  west  of 
the  Rockies,  unlike  their  kinsmen  of  the  plains, 
often  prove  hard  and  willing  workers.  His  know- 
ledge of  English  was  almost  nil;  and  our  very- 
scanty  conversation  was  carried  on  in  the  Chinook 
jargon,  universally  employed  between  the  moun- 
tains and  the  Pacific.  Apparently,  he  had  three 
names:  for  he  assured  us  that  his  ''  Boston"  (i.  e., 
American)  name  was  Ammal;  his  ''Siwash"  {i.  e., 
Indian)  name  was  Appak;  and  that  the  priest 
called  him  Abel — for  the  Lower  Kootenais  are 
nominally  Catholics.  Whatever  his  name  he  was 
a  good  Indian,  as  Indians  go.  I  often  tried  to 
talk  with  him  about  game  and  hunting,  but  we 
understood  each  other  too  little  to  exchange  more 
than  the  most  rudimentary  ideas.  His  face  bright- 
ened one  night  when  I  happened  to  tell  him  of  my 
baby  boys  at  home ;  he  must  have  been  an  affec- 
tionate father  in  his  way,  this  dark  Ammal,  for  he 
at  once  proceeded  to  tell  me  about  his  own  pa- 
poose, who  had  also  seen  one  snow,  and  to  de- 
scribe how  the  little  fellow  was  old  enough  to  take 
one  step  and  then  fall  down.  But  he  never  dis- 
played so  much  vivacity  as  on  one  occasion  when 


I70         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

the  white  hunter  happened  to  relate  to  him  a 
rather  gruesome  feat  of  one  of  their  mutual  ac- 
quaintances, an  Upper  Kootenai  Indian  named 
Three  Coyotes.  The  latter  was  a  quarrelsome,  ad- 
venturous Indian,  with  whom  the  hunter  had  once 
had  a  difficulty — *'  I  had  to  beat  the  cuss  over  the 
head  with  my  gun  a  little,"  he  remarked,  paren- 
thetically. His  last  feat  had  been  done  in  connec- 
tion with  a  number  of  Chinamen,  who  had  been 
working  among  some  placer  mines,  where  the  In- 
dians came  to  visit  them.  Now  the  astute  Chinese 
are  as  fond  of  gambling  as  any  of  the  borderers, 
white  or  red,  and  are  very  successful,  generally 
fleecing  the  Indians  unmercifully.  Three  Coyotes 
lost  all  he  possessed  to  one  of  the  pig-tailed  gentry ; 
but  he  apparently  took  his  losses  philosophically, 
and  pleasantly  followed  the  victor  round,  until  the 
latter  had  won  all  the  cash  and  goods  of  several 
other  Indians.  Then  he  suddenly  fell  on  the  exile 
from  the  Celestial  Empire,  slew  him,  and  took  all 
his  plunder,  retiring  unmolested,  as  it  did  not 
seem  any  one's  business  to  avenge  a  mere  China- 
man. Ammal  was  immensely  interested  in  the 
tale,  and  kept  recurring  to  it  again  and  again, 
taking  two  little  sticks  and  making  the  hunter  act 
out  the  whole  story.  The  Kootenais  were  then 
only  just  beginning  to  consider  the  Chinese  as 
human.  They  knew  they  must  not  kill  white 
people,  and  they  had  their  own  code  of  morality 


The  Caribou  171 

among  themselves;  but  when  the  Chinese  first 
appeared  they  evidently  thought  that  there  could 
not  be  any  especial  objection  to  killing  them,  if 
any  reason  arose  for  doing  so.  I  think  the  hunter 
himself  sympathized  somewhat  with  this  view. 

Ammal  objected  strongly  to  leaving  the  neigh- 
borhood of  the  lake.  He  went  the  first  day's 
journey  willingly  enough,  but  after  that  it  was  in- 
creasingly difficult  to  get  him  along,  and  he  gradu- 
ally grew  sulky.  For  some  time  we  could  not  find 
out  the  reason;  but  finally  he  gave  us  to  under- 
stand that  he  was  afraid  because  up  in  the  high 
mountains  there  were  "little  bad  Indians"  who 
would  kill  him  if  they  caught  him  alone,  especially 
at  night.  At  first  we  thought  he  was  speaking  of 
stray  warriors  of  the  Blackfeet  tribe ;  but  it  turned 
out  that  he  was  not  thinking  of  human  beings  at 
all,  but  of  hobgoblins. 

Indeed  the  night  sounds  of  these  great  stretches 
of  mountain  woodland  were  very  weird  and 
strange.  Though  I  have  often  and  for  long  periods 
dwelt  and  hunted  in  the  wilderness,  yet  I  never 
before  so  well  understood  why  the  people  who  live 
in  lonely  forest  regions  are  prone  to  believe  in 
elves,  wood  spirits,  and  other  beings  of  an  unseen 
world.  Our  last  camp,  whereat  we  spent  several 
days,  was  pitched  in  a  deep  valley  nearly  at  the 
head  of  the  stream.  Our  brush  shelter  stood 
among  the  tall  coniferous  trees  that  covered  the 


172         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

valley  bottom ;  but  the  altitude  was  so  great  that 
the  forest  extended  only  a  very  short  distance  up 
the  steep  mountain  slopes.  Beyond,  on  either 
hand,  rose  walls  of  gray  rock,  with  snow-beds  in 
their  rifts,  and,  high  above,  toward  the  snow-peaks, 
the  great  white  fields  dazzled  the  eyes.  The  tor- 
rent foamed  swiftly  by  but  a  short  distance  be- 
low the  mossy  level  space  on  which  we  had  built 
our  slight  weather-shield  of  pine  boughs ;  other 
streams  poured  into  it,  from  ravines  through  which 
they  leaped  down  the  mountain-sides. 

After  nightfall,  round  the  camp-fire,  or  if  I 
awakened  after  sleeping  a  little  while,  I  would 
often  lie  silently  for  many  minutes  together,  lis- 
tening to  the  noises  of  the  wilderness.  At  times 
the  wind  moaned  harshly  through  the  tops  of  the 
tall  pines  and  hemlocks;  at  times  the  branches 
were  still;  but  the  splashing  murmur  of  the  tor- 
rent never  ceased,  and  through  it  came  other 
sounds — the  clatter  of  huge  rocks  falling  down  the 
cliffs,  the  dashing  of  cataracts  in  far-off  ravines, 
the  hooting  of  owls.  Again,  the  breeze  would 
shift,  and  bring  to  my  ears  the  ringing  of  other 
brooks  and  cataracts  and  wind-stirred  forests,  and 
perhaps  at  long  intervals  the  cry  of  some  wild 
beast,  the  crashing  of  a  falling  tree,  or  the  faint 
rumble  of  a  snow  avalanche.  If  I  listened  long 
enough,  it  would  almost  seem  that  I  heard  thun- 
derous voices  laughing  and  calling  to  one  another, 


The  Caribou  173 

and  as  if  at  any  moment  some  shape  might  stalk 
out  of  the  darkness  into  the  dim  Hght  of  the 
embers. 

Until  within  a  couple  of  days  of  turning  our 
faces  back  towards  the  lake  we  did  not  come 
across  any  caribou,  and  saw  but  a  few  old  signs; 
and  we  began  to  be  fearful  lest  we  should  have  to 
return  without  getting  any,  for  our  shoes  had  been 
cut  to  ribbons  by  the  sharp  rocks,  we  were  almost 
out  of  flour,  and  therefore  had  but  little  to  eat. 
However,  our  perseverance  was  destined  to  be 
rewarded. 

The  first  day  after  reaching  our  final  camp,  we 
hunted  across  a  set  of  spurs  and  hollows,  but  saw 
nothing  living ;  yet  we  came  across  several  bear- 
tracks,  and  in  a  deep,  mossy  quagmire,  by  a  spring, 
found  where  a  huge  silver-tip  had  wallowed  only 
the  night  before. 

Next  day  we  started  early,  determined  to  take  a 
long  walk  and  follow  the  main  stream  up  to  its 
head,  or  at  least  above  timber  line.  The  hunter 
struck  so  brisk  a  pace,  plunging  through  thickets 
and  leaping  from  log  to  log  in  the  slashes  of  fallen 
timber,  and  from  boulder  to  boulder  in  crossing 
the  rock-slides,  that  I  could  hardly  keep  up  to  him, 
struggle  as  I  would,  and  we  each  of  us  got  several 
ugly  tumbles,  saving  our  rifles  at  the  expense  of 
scraped  hands  and  bruised  bodies.  We  went  up 
one  side  of  the  stream,  intending  to  come  down 


174         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

the  other;  for  the  forest  belt  was  narrow  enough 
to  hunt  thoroughly.  For  two  or  three  hours  we 
toiled  through  dense  growth,  varied  by  rock- 
slides,  and  once  or  twice  by  marshy  tracts,  where 
water  oozed  and  soaked  through  the  mossy  hill- 
sides, studded  rather  sparsely  with  evergreens. 
In  one  of  these  places  we  caught  a  glimpse  of 
an  animal  which  the  track  showed  to  be  a  wol- 
verine. 

Then  we  came  to  a  spur  of  open  hemlock  forest ; 
and  no  sooner  had  we  entered  it  than  the  hunter 
stopped  and  pointed  exultingly  to  a  well-marked 
game  trail,  in  which  it  was  easy  at  a  glance  to  dis- 
cern the  great  round  footprints  of  our  quarry.  We 
hunted  carefully  over  the  spur  and  found  several 
trails,  generally  leading  down  along  the  ridge ;  we 
also  found  a  number  of  beds,  some  old  and  some 
recent,  usually  placed  where  the  animal  could 
keep  a  lookout  for  any  foe  coming  up  from  the 
valley.  They  were  merely  slight  hollows  or  in- 
dentations in  the  pine-needles ;  and,  like  the  game 
trails,  were  placed  in  localities  similar  to  those 
that  would  be  chosen  by  blacktail  deer.  The 
caribou  droppings  were  also  very  plentiful;  and 
there  were  signs  of  where  they  had  browsed  on  the 
blueberry  bushes,  cropping  off  the  berries,  and 
also  apparently  of  where  they  had  here  and  there 
plucked  a  mouthful  of  a  peculiar  kind  of  moss,  or 
cropped  off  some  little  mushrooms.        But  the 


The  Caribou  175 

beasts  themselves  had  evidently  left  the  hemlock 
ridge,  and  we  went  on. 

We  were  much  pleased  at  finding  the  sign  in 
open  timber,  where  the  ground  was  excellent  for 
still-hunting;  for  in  such  thick  forest  as  we  had 
passed  through,  it  would  have  been  by  mere  luck 
only  that  we  could  have  approached  game. 

After  a  little  while  the  valley  became  so  high 
that  the  large  timber  ceased,  and  there  were  only 
occasional  groves  of  spindling  evergreens.  Be- 
yond the  edge  of  the  big  timber  was  a  large  boggy 
tract,  studded  with  little  pools ;  and  here  again  we 
found  plenty  of  caribou  tracks.  A  caribou  has 
an  enormous  foot,  bigger  than  a  cow's,  and  ad- 
mirably adapted  for  travelling  over  snow  or  bogs ; 
hence  they  can  pass  through  places  where  the  long 
slender  hoofs  of  moose  or  deer,  or  the  rounded 
hoofs  of  elk,  would  let  their  owners  sink  at  once ; 
and  they  are  very  difficult  to  kill  by  following  on 
snow-shoes — a  method  much  in  vogue  among  the 
brutal  game  butchers  for  slaughtering  the  more 
helpless  animals.  Spreading  out  his  great  hoofs, 
and  bending  his  legs  till  he  walks  almost  on  the 
joints,  a  caribou  will  travel  swiftly  over  a  crust 
through  which  a  moose  breaks  at  every  stride,  or 
through  deep  snow  in  which  a  deer  cannot  flounder 
fifty  yards.  Usually  he  trots ;  but  when  pressed 
he  will  spring  awkwardly  along,  leaving  tracks  in 
the  snow  almost  exactly  like  magnified  imprints  of 


17^         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

those  of  a  great  rabbit,  the  long  marks  of  the  two 
hind  legs  forming  an  angle  with  each  other,  while 
the  fore  feet  make  a  large  point  almost  between. 

The  caribou  had  wandered  all  over  the  bogs  and 
through  the  shallow  pools,  but  evidently  only  at 
night  or  in  the  dusk,  when  feeding  or  in  coming  to 
drink;  and  we  again  went  on.  Soon  the  timber 
disappeared  almost  entirely,  and  thick  brushwood 
took  its  place ;  we  were  in  a  high,  bare  alpine  val- 
ley, the  snow  lying  in  drifts  along  the  sides.  In 
places  there  had  been  enormous  rock-slides,  en- 
tirely filling  up  the  bottom,  so  that  for  a  quarter 
of  a  mile  at  a  stretch  the  stream  ran  underground. 
In  the  rock  masses  of  this  alpine  valley  we,  as 
usual,  saw  many  conies  and  hoary  woodchucks. 

The  caribou  trails  had  ceased,  and  it  was  evi- 
dent that  the  beasts  were  not  ahead  of  us  in  the 
barren,  treeless  recesses  between  the  mountains 
of  rock  and  snow ;  and  we  turned  back  down  the 
valley,  crossing  over  to  the  opposite  or  south  side 
of  the  stream.  We  had  already  eaten  our  scanty 
lunch,  for  it  was  afternoon.  For  several  miles  of 
hard  walking,  through  thicket,  marsh,  and  rock- 
slide,  we  saw  no  traces  of  the  game.  Then  we 
reached  the  forest,  which  soon  widened  out,  and 
crept  up  the  mountain- sides ;  and  we  came  to 
where  another  stream  entered  the  one  we  were 
following.  A  high,  steep  shoulder  between  the 
two  valleys  was  covered  with  an  open  growth  of 


The  Caribou  177 

great  hemlock  timber,  and  in  this  we  again  found 
the  trails  and  beds  plentiful.  There  was  no 
breeze,  and  after  beating  through  the  forest  nearly 
to  its  upper  edge,  we  began  to  go  down  the  ridge, 
or  point  of  the  shoulder.  The  comparative  free- 
dom from  brushwood  made  it  easy  to  walk  with- 
out noise,  and  we  descended  the  steep  incline  with 
the  utmost  care,  scanning  every  object,  and  using 
every  caution  not  to  slip  on  the  hemlock  needles 
nor  to  strike  a  stone  or  break  a  stick  with  our  feet. 
The  sign  was  very  fresh,  and  when  still  half  a  mile 
or  so  from  the  bottom  we  at  last  came  on  three 
bull  caribou. 

Instantly  the  hunter  crouched  down,  while  I 
ran  noiselessly  forward  behind  the. shelter  of  a  big 
hemlock  trunk  until  within  fifty  yards  of  the  graz- 
ing and  unconscious  quarry.  They  were  feeding 
with  their  heads  up  hill,  but  so  greedily  that  they 
had  not  seen  us ;  and  they  were  rather  difficult  to 
see  themselves,  for  their  bodies  harmonized  well  in 
color  with  the  brown  tree-trunks  and  lichen-cov- 
ered boulders.  The  largest,  a  big  bull  with  a  good 
but  by  no  means  extraordinary  head,  was  nearest. 
As  he  stood  fronting  me  with  his  head  down  I  fired 
into  his  neck,  breaking  the  bone,  and  he  turned 
a  tremendous  back  somersault.  The  other  two 
halted  a  second  in  stunned  terror;  then  one,  a 
yearling,  rushed  past  us  up  the  valley  down  which 
we  had  come,  while  the  other,  a  large  bull  with 


VOL.  I. — 12. 


178         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

small  antlers,  crossed  right  in  front  of  me,  at  a 
canter,  his  neck  thrust  out,  and  his  head — so 
coarse-looking  compared  to  the  delicate  outlines 
of  an  elk's — turned  towards  me.  His  movements 
seemed  clumsy  and  awkward,  utterly  unlike  those 
of  a  deer;  but  he  handled  his  great  hoofs  cleverly 
enough,  and  broke  into  a  headlong,  rattling  gallop 
as  he  went  down  the  hillside,  crashing  through  the 
saplings  and  leaping  over  the  fallen  logs.  There 
was  a  spur  a  little  beyond,  and  up  this  he  went  at 
a  swinging  trot,  halting  when  he  reached  the  top, 
and  turning  to  look  at  me  once  more.  He  was 
only  a  hundred  yards  away ;  and  though  I  had  not 
intended  to  shoot  him  (for  his  head  was  not  good) , 
the  temptation  was  sore ;  and  I  was  glad  when,  in 
another  second,  the  stupid  beast  turned  again  and 
went  off  up  the  valley  at  a  slashing  run. 

Then  we  hurried  down  to  examine  with  pride 
and  pleasure  the  dead  bull — his  massive  form, 
sleek  coat,  and  fine  antlers.  It  was  one  of  those 
moments  that  repay  the  hunter  for  days  of  toil  and 
hardship ;  that  is,  if  he  needs  repayment,  and  does 
not  find  life  in  the  wilderness  pleasure  enough  in 
itself. 

It  was  getting  late,  and  if  we  expected  to  reach 
camp  that  night  it  behooved  us  not  to  delay;  so 
we  merely  halted  long  enough  to  dress  the  caribou, 
and  take  a  steak  with  us — which  we  did  not  need, 
by  the  way,  for  almost  immediately  we  came  on  a 


The  Caribou  179 

band  of  spruce  grouse,  and  knocked  off  the  heads 
of  five  with  our  rifles.  The  caribou's  stomach  was 
filled  with  blueberries,  and  with  their  leaves,  and 
with  a  few  small  mushrooms  also,  and  some 
mouthfuls  of  moss.  We  went  home  very  fast,  too 
much  elated  to  heed  scratches  and  tumbles ;  and 
just  as  it  was  growing  so  dark  that  further  travel- 
ling was  impossible  we  came  opposite  our  camp, 
crossed  the  river  on  a  fallen  hemlock,  and  walked 
up  to  the  moody  Indian,  as  he  sat  crouched  by 
the  fire. 

He  lost  his  sullenness  when  he  heard  what  we 
had  done;  and  next  day  we  all  went  up  and 
skinned  and  butchered  the  caribou,  returning  to 
camp  and  making  ready  to  start  back  to  the  lake 
the  following  morning ;  and  that  night  we  feasted 
royally. 

We  were  off  by  dawn,  the  Indian  joyfully  lead- 
ing. Coming  up  into  the  mountains  he  had  always 
been  the  rear  man  of  the  file ;  but  now  he  went  first 
and  struck  a  pace  that,  continued  all  day  long,  gave 
me  a  little  trouble  to  follow.  Each  of  us  carried  his 
pack ;  to  the  Indian's  share  fell  the  caribou  skull 
and  antlers,  which  he  bore  on  his  head.  At  the 
end  of  the  day  he  confessed  to  me  that  it  had  made 
his  head  *'  heap  sick" — as  well  it  might.  We  had 
made  four  short  days',  or  parts  of  days',  march 
coming  up;  for  we  had  stopped  to  hunt,  and 
moreover    we    knew    nothing    of    the    country, 


i8o         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

being  probably  the  first  white  men  in  it,  while 
none  of  the  Indians  had  ever  ventured  a  long  dis- 
tance from  the  lake.  Returning,  we  knew  how  to 
take  the  shortest  route,  we  were  going  down  hill, 
and  we  walked  or  trotted  very  fast;  and  so  we 
made  the  whole  distance  in  twelve  hours'  travel. 
At  sunset  we  came  out  on  the  last  range  of  steep 
foothills,  overlooking  the  cove  where  we  had 
pitched  our  permanent  camp;  and  from  a  bare 
cliff  shoulder  we  saw  our  boat  on  the  beach,  and 
our  white  tent  among  the  trees,  just  as  we  had  left 
them,  while  the  glassy  mirror  of  the  lake  reflected 
the  outlines  of  the  mountains  opposite. 

Though  this  was  the  first  caribou  I  had  ever 
killed,  it  was  by  no  means  the  first  I  had  ever 
hunted.  Among  my  earliest  hunting  experiences, 
when  a  lad,  were  two  fruitless  and  toilsome  expedi- 
tions after  caribou  in  the  Maine  woods.  One  I 
made  in  the  fall,  going  to  the  head  of  the  Mun- 
sungin  River  in  a  pirogue,  with  one  companion. 
The  water  was  low,  and  all  the  way  up  we  had  to 
drag  the  pirogue,  wet  to  our  middles,  our  ankles 
sore  from  slipping  on  the  round  stones  under  the 
rushing  water,  and  our  muscles  aching  with  fatigue 
When  we  reached  the  head-waters  we  found  no 
caribou  sign,  and  came  back  without  slaying  any- 
thing larger  than  an  infrequent  duck  or  grouse. 

The  following  February  I  made  a  trip  on  snow- 
shoes  after  the  same  game,  and  with  the  same 


The  Caribou  i8i 

result.  However,  I  enjoyed  the  trip,  for  the  north- 
land  woods  are  very  beautiful  and  strange  in  win- 
ter, as  indeed  they  are  at  all  other  times — and 
it  was  my  first  experience  on  snow-shoes.  I  used 
the  ordinary  webbed  racquets,  and  as  the  snow, 
though  very  deep,  was  only  imperfectly  crusted,  I 
found  that  for  a  beginner  the  exercise  was  labor- 
ious in  the  extreme,  speedily  discovering  that,  no 
matter  how  cold  it  was,  while  walking  through  the 
windless  woods  I  stood  in  no  need  of  warm  clothing. 
But  at  night,  especially  when  lying  out,  the  cold 
was  bitter.  Our  plan  was  to  drive  in  a  sleigh  to 
some  logging  camp,  where  we  were  always  re- 
ceived with  hearty  hospitality,  and  thence  make 
htmting  trips,  in  very  light  marching  order, 
through  the  heart  of  the  surrounding  forest.  The 
woods,  wrapped  in  their  heavy  white  mantle,  were 
still  and  lifeless.  There  were  a  few  chickadees  and 
woodpeckers ;  now  and  then  we  saw  flocks  of  red- 
polls, pine  linnets,  and  large,  rosy  grosbeaks ;  and 
once  or  twice  I  came  across  a  grouse  or  white  rab- 
bit and  killed  it  for  supper;  but  this  was  nearly 
all.  Yet,  though  bird  life  was  scarce,  and  though 
we  saw  few  beasts  beyond  an  occasional  porcupine 
or  squirrel,  every  morning  the  snow  was  dotted 
with  a  network  of  trails  made  during  the  hours  of 
darkness ;  the  fine  tracery  of  the  footprints  of  the 
little  red  wood-mouse,  the  marks  which  showed 
the  loping  progress  of  the  sable,  the  V  and  dot  of 


1 82         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

the  rabbit,  the  round  pads  of  the  lucivee,  and 
many  others.  The  snow  reveals,  as  nothing  else 
does,  the  presence  in  the  forest  of  the  many  shy 
woodland  creatures  which  lead  their  lives  abroad 
only  after  nightfall.  Once  we  saw  a  coon,  out 
early  after  its  winter  nap,  and  following  I  shot  it 
in  a  hollow  tree.  Another  time  we  came  on  a 
deer,  and  the  frightened  beast  left  its  ''yard,"  a 
tangle  of  beaten  paths,  or  deep  furrows.  The  poor 
animal  made  but  slow  headway  through  the  pow- 
dery snow ;  after  going  thirty  or  forty  rods  it  sank 
exhausted  in  a  deep  drift,  and  lay  there  in  helpless 
panic  as  we  walked  close  by.  Very  different  were 
the  actions  of  the  only  caribou  we  saw — a  fine 
beast  which  had  shed  its  antlers.  I  merely  caught 
a  glimpse  of  it  as  it  leaped  over  a  breastwork  of 
down  timbers ;  and  we  never  saw  it  again.  Alter- 
nately trotting  and  making  a  succession  of  long 
jumps,  it  speedily  left  us  far  behind ;  with  its  great 
splay-hoofs  it  could  snow-shoe  better  than  we 
could.  It  is  among  deer  the  true  denizen  of  the 
regions  of  heavy  snowfall;  far  more  so  than  the 
moose.  Only  under  exceptional  conditions  of 
crust-formation  is  it  in  any  danger  from  a  man  on 
snow-shoes. 

In  other  ways  it  is  no  better  able  to  take  care  of 
itself  than  moose  and  deer ;  in  fact,  I  doubt  whether 
its  senses  are  quite  as  acute,  or  at  least  whether  it 
is  as  wary  and  knowing,  for  under  like  conditions 


The  Caribou  183 

it  is  rather  easier  to  still-hunt.  In  the  fall  caribou 
wander  long  distances,  and  are  fond  of  frequenting 
the  wet  barrens,  which  break  the  expanse  of  the 
northern  forest  in  tracts  of  ever-increasing  size  as 
the  subarctic  regions  are  neared.  At  this  time 
they  go  in  bands,  each  under  the  control  of  a  mas- 
ter bull,  which  wages  repeated  and  furious  battles 
for  his  harem;  and  in  their  ways  of  life  they  re- 
semble the  wapiti  more  than  they  do  the  moose  or 
deer.  They  sometimes  display  a  curious  bold- 
ness, the  bulls  especially  showing  both  stupidity 
and  pugnacity  when  in  districts  to  which  men 
rarely  penetrate. 

On  our  way  out  of  the  woods,  after  this  hunt, 
there  was  a  slight  warm  spell,  followed  by  rain  and 
then  by  freezing  weather,  so  as  to  bring  about 
what  is  known  as  a  silver  thaw.  Every  twig  was 
sheathed  in  glittering  ice,  and  in  the  moonlight  the 
forest  gleamed  as  if  carved  out  of  frosted  silver. 


CHAPTER  IX 

THE    WAPITI    OR   ROUND-HORNED    ELK 

ONCE,  while  on  another  hunt  with  John  Wil- 
lis, I  spent  a  week  in  a  vain  effort  to  kill 
moose  among  the  outlying  mountains  at 
the  southern  end  of  the  Bitter  Root  range.  Then, 
as  we  had  no  meat,  we  determined  to  try  for  elk, 
of  which  we  had  seen  much  sign. 

We  here  camped  with  a  wagon,  as  high  among 
the  foothills  as  wheels  could  go,  but  several  hours' 
walk  from  the  range  of  the  game ;  for  it  was  still 
early  in  the  season,  and  they  had  not  yet  come 
down  from  the  upper  slopes.  Accordingly  we 
made  a  practice  of  leaving  the  wagon  for  two  or 
three  days  at  a  time  to  hunt ;  returning  to  get  a 
night's  rest  in  the  tent,  preparatory  to  a  fresh 
start.  On  these  trips  we  carried  neither  blan- 
kets nor  packs,  as  the  walking  was  difficult  and  we 
had  much  ground  to  cover.  Each  merely  put  on 
his  jacket,  with  a  loaf  of  frying-pan  bread  and  a 
paper  of  salt  stuffed  into  the  pockets.  We  were 
cumbered  with  nothing  save  our  rifles  and  cart- 
ridges. 

184 


Wapiti  or  Round-Horned  Elk     185 

On  the  morning  in  question  we  left  camp  at 
sunrise.  For  two  or  three  hours  we  walked  up 
hill  through  a  rather  open  growth  of  small  pines 
and  spruces,  the  travelling  being  easy.  Then  we 
came  to  the  edge  of  a  deep  valley,  a  couple  of 
miles  across.  Into  this  we  scrambled,  down  a 
steep  slide,  where  the  forest  had  grown  up  among 
the  immense  boulder  masses.  The  going  here  was 
difficult  to  a  degree ;  the  great  rocks,  dead  timber, 
slippery  pine  needles,  and  loose  gravel  entailing 
caution  at  every  step,  while  we  had  to  guard  our 
rifles  carefully  from  the  consequences  of  a  slip.  It 
was  not  much  better  at  the  bottom,  which  was 
covered  by  a  tangled  mass  of  swampy  forest. 
Through  this  we  hunted  carefully,  but  with  no 
success,  in  spite  of  our  toil;  for  the  only  tracks 
we  saw  that  were  at  all  fresh  were  those  of  a  cow 
and  calf  moose.  Finally,  in  the  afternoon,  we  left 
the  valley  and  began  to  climb  a  steep  gorge,  down 
which  a  mountain  torrent  roared  and  foamed  in  a 
succession  of  cataracts. 

Three  hours'  hard  climbing  brought  us  to  an- 
other valley,  but  of  an  entirely  different  character. 
It  was  several  miles  long,  but  less  than  a  mile 
broad.  Save  at  the  mouth,  it  was  walled  in  com- 
pletely by  chains  of  high  rock-peaks,  their  sum- 
mits snow-capped;  the  forest  extended  a  short 
distance  up  their  sides.  The  bottom  of  the  val- 
ley  was   in  places   covered  by  open  woodland, 


i86         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

elsewhere  by  marshy  meadows,  dotted  with  dense 
groves  of  spruce. 

Hardly  had  we  entered  this  valley  before  we 
caught  a  glimpse  of  a  yearling  elk  walking  rapidly 
along  a  game  path  some  distance  ahead.  We  fol- 
lowed as  quickly  as  we  could  without  making  a 
noise,  but  after  the  first  glimpse  never  saw  it 
again ;  for  it  is  astonishing  how  fast  an  elk  travels, 
with  its  ground-covering  walk.  We  went  up  the 
valley  until  we  were  well  past  its  middle,  and  saw 
abundance  of  fresh  elk  sign.  Evidently  two  or 
three  bands  had  made  the  neighborhood  their 
headquarters.  Among  them  were  some  large 
bulls,  which  had  been  trying  their  horns  not  only 
on  the  quaking-asp  and  willow  saplings,  but  also 
on  one  another,  though  the  rut  had  barely  begun. 
By  one  pool  they  had  scooped  out  a  kind  of  wal- 
low or  bare  spot  in  the  grass,  and  had  torn  and 
tramped  the  ground  with  their  hoofs.  The  place 
smelt  strongly  of  their  urine. 

By  the  time  the  sun  set  we  were  sure  the  elk 
were  towards  the  head  of  the  valley.  We  utilized 
the  short  twilight  in  arranging  our  sleeping-place 
for  the  night,  choosing  a  thick  grove  of  spruce  be- 
side a  small  mountain  tarn,  at  the  foot  of  a  great 
cliff.  We  were  chiefly  influenced  in  our  choice  by 
the  abundance  of  dead  timber  of  a  size  easy  to 
handle;  the  fuel  question  being  all-important  on 
such  a  trip,  where  one  has  to  lie  out  without  bed- 


Wapiti  or  Round-Horned  Elk     187 

ding,  and  to  keep  up  a  fire,  with  no  axe  to  cut 
wood. 

Having  selected  a  smooth  spot,  where  some 
low-growing  firs  made  a  wind-break,  we  dragged 
up  enough  logs  to  feed  the  fire  throughout  the 
night.  Then  we  drank  our  fill  at  the  icy  pool,  and 
ate  a  few  mouthfuls  of  bread.  While  it  was  still 
light  we  heard  the  querulous  bleat  of  the  conies, 
from  among  the  slide  rocks  at  the  foot  of  the 
mountain;  and  the  chipmunks  and  chickarees 
scolded  at  us.  As  dark  came  on,  and  we  sat 
silently  gazing  into  the  flickering  blaze,  the  owls 
began  muttering  and  hooting. 

Clearing  the  ground  of  stones  and  sticks,  we  lay 
down  beside  the  fire,  pulled  our  soft  felt  hats  over 
our  ears,  buttoned  our  jackets,  and  went  to  sleep. 
Of  course,  our  slumbers  were  fitful  and  broken,  for 
every  hour  or  two  the  fire  got  low  and  had  to  be 
replenished.  We  wakened  shivering  out  of  each 
spell  of  restless  sleep  to  find  the  logs  smouldering ; 
we  were  alternately  scorched  and  frozen. 

As  the  first  faint  streak  of  dawn  appeared  in  the 
dark  sky  my  companion  touched  me  lightly  on  the 
arm.  The  fire  was  nearly  out ;  we  felt  numbed  by 
the  chill  air.  At  once  we  sprang  up,  stretched 
our  arms,  shook  ourselves,  examined  our  rifles, 
swallowed  a  mouthful  or  two  of  bread,  and  walked 
off  through  the  gloomy  forest. 

At  first  we  could  scarcely  see  our  way,  but  it 


1 88         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

grew  rapidly  lighter.  The  gray  mist  rose  and 
wavered  over  the  pools  and  wet  places ;  the  morn- 
ing voices  of  the  wilderness  began  to  break  the 
death-like  stillness.  After  we  had  walked  a  couple 
of  miles  the  mountain  tops  on  our  right  hand 
reddened  in  the  sun-rays. 

Then,  as  we  trod  noiselessly  over  the  dense 
moss,  and  on  the  pine  needles  under  the  scattered 
trees,  we  heard  a  sharp  clang  and  clatter  up  the 
valley  ahead  of  us.  We  knew  this  meant  game  of 
some  sort ;  and  stealing  lightly  and  cautiously  for- 
ward we  soon  saw  before  us  the  cause  of  the  noise. 

In  a  little  glade,  a  hundred  and  twenty-five 
yards  from  us,  two  bull  elk  were  engaged  in  deadly 
combat,  while  two  others  were  looking  on.  It  was 
a  splendid  sight.  The  great  beasts  faced  each 
other  with  lowered  horns,  the  manes  that  covered 
their  thick  necks  and  the  hair  on  their  shoulders 
bristling  and  erect.  Then  they  charged  furiously, 
the  crash  of  the  meeting  antlers  resounding  through 
the  valley.  The  shock  threw  them  both  on  their 
haunches;  with  locked  horns  and  glaring  eyes 
they  strove  against  each  other,  getting  their  hind 
legs  well  under  them,  straining  every  muscle  in 
their  huge  bodies,  and  squealing  savagely.  They 
were  evenly  matched  in  weight,  strength,  and 
courage ;  and  push  as  they  might,  neither  got  the 
upper  hand,  first  one  yielding  a  few  inches,  then 
the  other,  while  they  swayed  to  and  fro  in  their 


Wapiti  or  Round-Horned  Elk     189 

struggles,  smashing  the  bushes  and  ploughing  up 
the  soil. 

Finally  they  separated  and  stood  some  little 
distance  apart,  under  the  great  pines,  their  sides 
heaving,  and  columns  of  steam  rising  from  their 
nostrils  through  the  frosty  air  of  the  brightening 
morning.  Again  they  rushed  together  with  a 
crash,  and  each  strove  mightily  to  overthrow  the 
other,  or  get  past  his  guard;  but  the  branching 
antlers  caught  every  vicious  lunge  and  thrust. 
This  set-to  was  stopped  rather  curiously.  One  of 
the  onlooking  elk  was  a  yearling;  the  other, 
though  scarcely  as  heavy-bodied  as  either  of  the 
fighters,  had  a  finer  head.  He  was  evidently  much 
excited  by  the  battle,  and  he  now  began  to  walk 
towards  the  two  combatants,  nodding  his  head 
and  uttering  a  queer,  whistling  noise.  They  dared 
not  leave  their  flanks  uncovered  to  his  assault; 
and  as  he  approached  they  promptly  separated, 
and  walked  off  side  by  side  a  few  yards  apart.  In 
a  moment,  however,  one  spun  round  and  jumped 
at  his  old  adversary,  seeking  to  stab  him  in 
his  unprotected  flank;  but  the  latter  was  just 
as  quick,  and  as  before  caught  the  rush  on  his 
horns.  They  closed  as  furiously  as  ever;  but 
the  utmost  either  could  do  was  to  inflict  one  or 
two  punches  on  the  neck  and  shoulders  of  his 
foe,  where  the  thick  hide  served  as  a  shield. 
Again  the  peacemaker  approached,    nodding   his 


190         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

head,  whistling,  and  threatening;  and  again  they 
separated. 

This  was  repeated  once  or  twice ;  and  I  began 
to  be  afraid  lest  the  breeze  which  was  very  light 
and  puffy  should  shift  and  give  them  my  wind. 
So,  resting  my  rifle  on  my  knee,  I  fired  twice, 
putting  one  bullet  behind  the  shoulder  of  the 
peacemaker,  and  the  other  behind  the  shoulder 
of  one  of  the  combatants.       Both  were  deadly 
shots,  but,  as  so  often  with  wapiti,  neither  of  the 
wounded   animals   at   the   moment   showed  any 
signs   of   being   hit.     The   yearling   ran   off   un- 
scathed.    The  other  three  crowded  together  and 
trotted  behind  some  spruce  on  the  left,  while  we 
ran  forward  for  another  shot.     In  a  moment  one 
fell;    whereupon  the  remaining  two  turned  and 
came  back  across  the  glade,  trotting  to  the  right. 
As  we  opened  fire  they  broke  into  a  lumbering 
gallop,  but  were  both  downed  before  they  got  out 
of  sight  in  the  timber. 

As  soon  as  the  three  bulls  were  down  we  busied 
ourselves  taking  off  their  heads  and  hides,  and 
cutting  off  the  best  portions  of  the  meat — from 
the  saddles  and  hams — to  take  back  to  camp, 
where  we  smoked  it.  But  first  we  had  breakfast. 
We  kindled  a  fire  beside  a  little  spring  of  clear 
water  and  raked  out  the  coals.  Then  we  cut  two 
willow  twigs  as  spits,  ran  on  each  a  number  of 
small  pieces  of  elk  loin,  and  roasted  them  over  the 


Wapiti  or  Round-Horned  Elk     191 

fire.  We  had  salt ;  we  were  very  hungry ;  and  I 
never  ate  anything  that  tasted  better. 

The  wapiti  is,  next  to  the  moose,  the  most 
quarrelsome  and  pugnacious  of  American  deer.  It 
cannot  be  said  that  it  is  ordinarily  a  dangerous 
beast  to  hunt;  yet  there  are  instances  in  which 
wounded  wapiti,  incautiously  approached  to  with- 
in striking  distance,  have  severely  misused  their 
assailants,  both  with  their  antlers  and  their  fore 
feet.  I  myself  knew  one  man  who  had  been 
badly  mauled  in  this  fashion.  When  tamed  the 
bulls  are  dangerous  to  human  life  in  the  rutting 
season.  In  a  grapple  they  are  of  course  infinitely 
more  to  be  dreaded  than  ordinary  deer,  because  of 
their  great  strength. 

However,  the  fiercest  wapiti  bull,  when  in  a 
wild  state,  flees  the  neighborhood  of  man  with 
the  same  panic  terror  shown  by  the  cows ;  and  he 
makes  no  stand  against  a  grisly,  though  when  his 
horns  are  grown  he  has  little  fear  of  either  wolf  or 
cougar  if  on  his  guard  and  attacked  fairly.  The 
chief  battles  of  the  bulls  are  of  course  waged  with 
one  another.  Before  the  beginning  of  the  rut  they 
keep  by  themselves:  singly,  while  the  sprouting 
horns  are  still  very  young,  at  which  time  they  lie 
in  secluded  spots  and  move  about  as  little  as  pos- 
sible; in  large  bands,  later  in  the  season.  At  the 
beginning  of  the  fall  these  bands  join  with  one  an- 
other and  with  the  bands  of  cows  and  calves, 


192  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

which  have  hkewise  been  keeping  to  themselves 
during  the  late  winter,  the  spring,  and  the  sum- 
mer. Vast  herds  are  thus  sometimes  formed,  con- 
taining, in  the  old  days  when  wapiti  were  plenty, 
thousands  of  head.  The  bulls  now  begin  to  fight 
furiously  with  one  another,  and  the  great  herd 
becomes  split  into  smaller  ones.  Each  of  these 
has  one  master  bull,  who  has  won  his  position  by 
savage  battle,  and  keeps  it  by  overcoming  every 
rival,  whether  a  solitary  bull,  or  the  lord  of  another 
harem,  who  challenges  him.  When  not  fighting  or 
love-making  he  is  kept  on  the  run,  chasing  away 
the  young  bulls  who  venture  to  pay  court  to  the 
cows.  He  has  hardly  time  to  eat  or  sleep,  and  soon 
becomes  gaunt  and  worn  to  a  degree.  At  the 
close  of  the  rut  many  of  the  bulls  become  so 
emaciated  that  they  retire  to  some  secluded  spot 
to  recuperate.  They  are  so  weak  that  they  readily 
succumb  to  the  elements,  or  to  their  brute  foes; 
many  die  from  sheer  exhaustion. 

The  battles  between  the  bulls  rarely  result 
fatally.  After  a  longer  or  shorter  period  of  charg- 
ing, pushing,  and  struggling,  the  heavier  or  more 
enduring  of  the  two  begins  to  shove  his  weaker 
antagonist  back  and  round;  and  the  latter  then 
watches  his  chance  and  bolts,  hotly,  but  as  a  rule 
harmlessly,  pursued  for  a  few  hundred  yards.  The 
massive  branching  antlers  serve  as  effective  guards 
against  the  most  wicked  thrusts.     While  the  an- 


Wapiti  or  Round-Horned  Elk     193 

tagonists  are  head  on,  the  worst  that  can  happen 
is  a  punch  on  the  shoulder  which  will  not  break 
the  thick  hide,  though  it  may  bruise  the  flesh  un- 
derneath. It  is  only  when  a  beast  is  caught  while 
turning  that  there  is  a  chance  to  deliver  a  possibly 
deadly  stab  in  the  flank,  with  the  brow  prongs, 
the  "dog-killers,"  as  they  are  called  in  bucks. 
Sometimes,  but  rarely,  fighting  wapiti  get  their 
antlers  interlocked  and  perish  miserably ;  my  own 
ranch,  the  Elkhorn,  was  named  from  finding  on 
the  spot  where  the  ranch-house  now  stands  two 
splendid  pairs  of  elk  antlers  thus  interlocked. 

Wapiti  keep  their  antlers  tmtil  the  spring, 
whereas  deer  and  moose  lose  theirs  by  midwinter. 
The  bull's  behavior  in  relation  to  the  cow  is  merely 
that  of  a  vicious  and  brutal  coward.  He  bullies 
her  continually,  and  in  times  of  danger  his  one 
thought  is  for  sneaking  off  to  secure  his  own 
safety.  For  all  his  noble  looks  he  is  a  very  un- 
amiable  beast,  who  behaves  with  brutal  ferocity 
to  the  weak,  and  shows  abject  terror  of  the  strong. 
According  to  his  powers,  he  is  guilty  of  rape,  rob- 
bery, and  even  murder.  I  never  felt  the  least 
compunction  at  shooting  a  bull,  but  I  hate  to 
shoot  a  cow,  even  when  forced  by  necessity. 
Maternity  must  always  appeal  to  any  one.  A  cow 
has  more  courage  than  a  bull.  She  will  fight  val- 
iantly for  her  young  calf,  striking  such  blows  with 
her  fore  feet  that  most  beasts  of  prey  at  once  slink 


194         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

away  from  the  combat.  Cougars  and  wolves  com- 
mit great  ravages  among  the  bands ;  but  they  often 
secure  their  quarry  only  at  the  cost  of  sharp  pre- 
liminary tussles — and  in  tussles  of  this  kind  they 
do  not  always  prove  victors  or  escape  scathless. 

During  the  rut  the  bulls  are  very  noisy;  and 
their  notes  of  amorous  challenge  are  called 
** whistling"  by  the  frontiersmen, — very  inappro- 
priately. They  begin  to  whistle  about  ten  days 
before  they  begin  to  run ;  and  they  have  in  addi- 
tion an  odd  kind  of  bark,  which  is  only  heard  oc- 
casionally. The  whistling  is  a  most  curious,  and 
to  me  a  most  attractive  sound,  when  heard  in  the 
great  lonely  mountains.  As  with  so  many  other 
things,  much  depends  upon  the  surroundings. 
When  listened  to  nearby  and  under  unfavorable 
circumstances,  the  sound  resembles  a  succession 
of  hoarse  whistling  roars,  ending  with  two  or  three 
gasping  grunts. 

But  heard  at  a  little  distance,  and  in  its  proper 
place,  the  call  of  the  wapiti  is  one  of  the  grandest 
and  most  beautiful  sounds  in  nature.  Especially 
is  this  the  case  when  several  rivals  are  answering 
one  another,  on  some  frosty  moonlight  night  in 
the  mountains.  The  wild  melody  rings  from 
chasm  to  chasm  under  the  giant  pines,  sustained 
and  modulated,  through  bar  after  bar,  filled  with 
challenge  and  proud  anger.  It  thrills  the  soul  of 
the  listening  hunter. 


Wapiti  or  Round-Horned  Elk     195 

Once,  while  in  the  mountains,  I  listened  to  a 
peculiarly  grand  chorus  of  this  kind.  We  were 
travelling  with  pack-ponies  at  the  time,  and  our 
tent  was  pitched  in  a  grove  of  yellow  pine,  by  a 
brook  in  the  bottom  of  a  valley.  On  either  hand 
rose  the  mountains,  covered  with  spruce  forest. 
It  was  in  September,  and  the  first  snow  had  just 
fallen. 

The  day  before  we.  had  walked  long  and  hard ; 
and  during  the  night  I  slept  the  heavy  sleep  of  the 
weary.  Early  in  the  morning,  just  as  the  east 
began  to  grow  gray,  I  waked ;  and  as  I  did  so,  the 
sounds  that  smote  on  my  ear  caused  me  to  sit  up 
and  throw  off  the  warm  blankets.  Bull  elk  were 
challenging  among  the  mountains  on  both  sides  of 
the  valley,  a  little  way  from  us,  their  notes  echoing 
like  the  calling  of  silver  bugles.  Groping  about  in 
the  dark,  I  drew  on  my  trousers,  an  extra  pair  of 
thick  socks,  and  my  moccasins,  donned  a  warm 
jacket,  found  my  fur  cap  and  gloves,  and  stole  out 
of  the  tent  with  my  rifle. 

The  air  was  very  cold;  the  stars  were  begin- 
ning to  pale  in  the  dawn ;  on  the  ground  the  snow 
glimmered  white,  and  lay  in  feathery  masses  on 
the  branches  of  the  balsams  and  young  pines.  The 
air  rang  with  the  challenges  of  many  wapiti ;  their 
incessant  calling  came  pealing  down  through  the 
still,  snow-laden  woods.  First  one  bull  chal- 
legend;    then  another  answered;    then  another 


196      '   The  Wilderness  Hunter 

and  another.  Two  herds  were  approaching  one 
another  from  opposite  sides  of  the  valley,  a  short 
distance  above  our  camp;  and  the  master  bulls 
were  roaring  defiance  as  they  mustered  their 
harems. 

I  walked  stealthily  up  the  valley,  until  I  felt 
that  I  was  nearly  between  the  two  herds;  and 
then  stood  motionless  under  a  tall  pine.  The 
ground  was  quite  open  at  this  point,  the  pines, 
though  large,  being  scattered;  the  little  brook 
ran  with  a  strangled  murmur  between  its  rows  of 
willows  and  alders,  for  the  ice  along  its  edges 
nearly  skimmed  its  breadth.  The  stars  paled 
rapidly,  the  gray  dawn  brightened,  and  in  the  sky 
overhead  faint  rose-colored  streaks  were  turning 
blood-red.  What  little  wind  there  was  breathed 
in  my  face  and  kept  me  from  discovery. 

I  made  up  my  mind,  from  the  sound  of  the  chal- 
lenging, now  very  near  me,  that  one  bull  on  my 
right  was  advancing  towards  a  rival  on  my  left, 
who  was  answering  every  call.  Soon  the  former 
approached  so  near  that  I  could  hear  him  crack 
the  branches,  and  beat  the  bushes  with  his  horns ; 
and  I  slipped  quietly  from  tree  to  tree,  so  as  to 
meet  him  when  he  came  out  into  the  more 
open  woodland.  Day  broke,  and  crimson  gleams 
played  across  the  snow-clad  mountains  beyond. 

At  last,  just  as  the  sun  flamed  red  above  the 
hill-tops,  I  heard  the  roar  of  the  wapiti's  challenge 


Wapiti  or  Round-Horned  Elk     197 

not  fifty  yards  away ;  and  I  cocked  and  half  raised 
my  rifle,  and  stood  motionless.  In  a  moment  more, 
the  belt  of  spruces  in  front  of  me  swayed  and 
opened,  and  the  lordly  bull  stepped  out.  He  bore 
his  massive  antlers  aloft;  the  snow  lay  thick  on 
his  mane ;  he  snuffed  the  air  and  stamped  on  the 
ground  as  he  walked.  As  I  drew  a  bead,  the  mo- 
tion caught  his  eye ;  and  instantly  his  bearing  of 
haughty  and  warlike  self-confidence  changed  to 
one  of  alarm.  My  bullet  smote  through  his 
shoulder-blades,  and  he  plunged  wildly  forward, 
and  fell  full  length  on  the  blood-stained  snow. 

Nothing  can  be  finer  than  a  wapiti  bull's  car- 
riage when  excited  or  alarmed ;  he  then  seems  the 
embodiment  of  strength  and  stately  grace.  But 
at  ordinary  times  his  looks  are  less  attractive,  as 
he  walks  with  his  neck  level  with  his  body  and  his 
head  outstretched,  his  horns  lying  almost  on  his 
shoulders.  The  favorite  gait  of  the  wapiti  is  the 
trot,  which  is  very  fast,  and  which  they  can  keep 
up  for  countless  miles ;  when  suddenly  and  greatly 
alarmed,  they  break  into  an  awkward  gallop, 
which  is  faster,  but  which  speedily  tires  them. 

I  have  occasionally  killed  elk  in  the  neighbor- 
hood of  my  ranch  on  the  Little  Missouri.  They 
were  very  plentiful  along  this  river  until  1881,  but 
the  last  of  the  big  bands  were  slaughtered  or  scat- 
tered about  that  time.  Smaller  bunches  were 
fotind  for  two  or  three  years  longer;   and  to  this 


igS         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

day,  scattered  individuals,  singly  or  in  parties  of 
two  or  three,  linger  here  and  there  in  the  most 
remote  and  inaccessible  parts  of  the  broken 
country.  In  the  old  times  they  were  often  found 
on  the  open  prairie,  and  were  fond  of  sunning 
themselves  on  the  sand-bars  by  the  river,  even  at 
midday,  while  they  often  fed  by  daylight  (as  they 
do  still  in  remote  mountain  fastnesses).  Now- 
adays the  few  survivors  dwell  in  the  timber  of 
the  roughest  ravines,  and  only  venture  abroad  at 
dusk  or  even  after  nightfall.  Thanks  to  their 
wariness  and  seclusiveness,  their  presence  is  often 
not  even  suspected  by  the  cowboys  or  others  who 
occasionally  ride  through  their  haunts;  and  so 
the  hunters  only  know  vaguely  of  their  existence. 
It  thus  happens  that  the  last  individuals  of  a  spe- 
cies may  linger  in  a  locality  for  many  years  after 
the  rest  of  their  kind  have  vanished ;  on  the  Little 
Missouri  to-day  every  elk  (as  in  the  Rockies  every 
buffalo)  killed  is  at  once  set  down  as  ''the  last  of 
its  race."  For  several  years  in  succession  I  my- 
self kept  killing  one  or  two  such  "last  survivors." 
A  yearling  bull  which  I  thus  obtained  was  killed 
while  in  company  with  my  staunch  friend  Will 
Dow,  on  one  of  the  first  trips  which  I  took  with 
that  prince  of  drivers,  old  man  Tompkins.  We 
were  laying  in  our  stock  of  winter  meat ;  and  had 
taken  the  wagon  to  go  to  a  knot  of  high  and  very 
rugged  hills  where  we  knew  there  were  deer,  and 


Wapiti  or  Round-Horned  Elk     199 

thought  there  might  be  elk.  Old  Tompkins  drove 
the  wagon  with  unmoved  composure  up,  down, 
and  across  frightful-looking  hills,  and  when  they 
became  wholly  impassable,  steered  the  team  over 
a  cut  bank  and  up  a  kind  of  winding  ravine  or 
wooded  washout,  until  it  became  too  rough  and 
narrow  for  farther  progress.  There  was  good 
grass  for  the  horses  on  a  hill  off  to  one  side  of  us ; 
and  stunted  cottonwood  trees  grew  between  the 
straight  white  walls  of  clay  and  sandstone  which 
hemmed  in  the  washout.  We  pitched  our  tent  by 
a  little  trickling  spring  and  kindled  a  great  fire, 
the  fitful  glare  lighting  the  bare  cliffs  and  the  queer 
sprawling  tops  of  the  cottonwoods;  and  after  a 
dinner  of  fried  prairie-chicken  went  to  bed.  At 
dawn  we  were  off,  and  hunted  till  nearly  noon, 
when  Dow,  who  had  been  walking  to  one  side, 
beckoned  to  me  and  remarked:  "There  's  some- 
thing mighty  big  in  the  timber  down  under  the 
cliff;  I  guess  it  's  an  elk"  (he  had  never  seen  one 
before) ;  and  the  next  moment,  as  old  Tompkins 
expressed  it,  "the  elk  came  bilin'  out  of  the  cou- 
lie."  Old  Tompkins  had  a  rifle  on  this  occasion, 
and  the  sight  of  game  always  drove  him  crazy ;  as 
I  aimed  I  heard  Dow  telling  him  to  "let  the  boss 
do  the  shooting"  ;  and  I  killed  the  elk  to  a  savage 
inter jectional  accompaniment  of  threats  delivered 
at  old  man  Tompkins  between  the  shots. 

Elk  are  sooner  killed  off  than  any  other  game 


200         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

save  buffalo,  but  this  is  due  to  their  size  and  the 
nature  of  the  ground  they  frequent  rather  than  to 
their  lack  of  shyness.     They  like  open  woodland, 
or  mountainous  park  country,  or  hills  riven  by 
timber  coulies ;  and  such  ground  is  the  most  fa- 
vorable to  the  hunter,  and  the  most  attractive  in 
which  to  hunt.     On  the  other  hand,  moose,  for 
instance,  live  in  such  dense  cover  that  it  is  very 
difficult  to  get  at  them;   when  elk  are  driven  by 
incessant  persecution  to  take  refuge  in  similar 
fastnesses  they  become  almost  as  hard  to  kill.     In 
fact,  in  this  respect  the  elk  stands  to  the  moose 
much  as  the   blacktail   stands   to  the  whitetail. 
The  moose  and  whitetail  are  somewhat  warier 
than  the  elk  and  blacktail ;  but  it  is  the  nature  of 
the  ground  which  they  inhabit  that  tells  most  in 
their  favor.     On  the  other  hand,  as  compared  to 
the  blacktail,  it  is  only  the  elk's  size  which  puts  it 
at  a  disadvantage  in  the  struggle  for  life  when  the 
rifle-bearing  hunter  appears  on  the  scene.     It  is 
quite  as  shy  and  difficult  to  approach  as  the  deer ; 
but  its  bulk  renders  it  much  more  eagerly  hunted, 
more  readily  seen,  and  more  easily  hit.    Occasion- 
ally elk  suffer  from  fits  of  stupid  tameness  or 
equally  stupid  panic :  but  the  same  is  true  of  black- 
tail.      In  two  or  three  instances  I  have  seen  elk 
show  silly  ignorance  of  danger;  but  half  a  dozen 
times  I  have  known  blacktail  behave  with  an  even 
greater  degree  of  stupid  familiarity. 


Wapiti  or  Round-Horned  Elk    201 

There  is  another  point  in  which  the  wapiti  and 
blacktail  agree  in  contrast  to  the  moose  and  white- 
tail.  Both  the  latter  delight  in  water-lilies,  enter- 
ing the  ponds  to  find  them,  and  feeding  on  them 
greedily.  The  wapiti  is  very  fond  of  wallowing  in 
the  mud,  and  of  bathing  in  pools  and  lakes;  but 
as  a  rule  it  shows  as  little  fondness  as  the  blacktail 
for  feeding  on  water-lilies  or  other  aquatic  plants. 

In  reading  of  the  European  red  deer,  which  is 
nothing  but  a  diminutive  wapiti,  we  often  see  a 
''  stag  of  ten"  alluded  to  as  if  a  full-grown  monarch. 
A  full-grown  wapiti  bull,  however,  always  has 
twelve,  and  may  have  fourteen,  regular  normal 
points  on  his  antlers,  besides  irregular  additional 
prongs ;  and  he  occasionally  has  ten  points  when 
a  two-year-old,  as  I  have  myself  seen  with  calves 
captured  young  and  tamed.  The  calf  has  no 
horns.  The  yearling  carries  two  foot-long  spikes, 
sometimes  bifurcated,  so  as  to  make  four  points. 
The  two-year-old  often  has  six  or  eight  points  on 
his  antlers ;  but  sometimes  ten,  although  they  are 
always  small.  The  three-year-old  has  eight  or 
ten  points,  while  his  body  may  be  nearly  as  large 
as  that  of  a  full-grown  animal.  The  four-year- 
old  is  normally  a  ten-  or  twelve-pointer,  but  as  yet 
with  much  smaller  antlers  than  those  so  proudly 
borne  by  the  old  bulls. 

Frontiersmen  only  occasionally  distinguish  the 
prongs  by  name.      The  brow  and  bay  points  are 


202  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

called  dog-killers  or  war-tines ;  the  tray  is  known 
simply  as  the  third  point ;  and  the  most  character- 
istic prong,  the  long  and  massive  fourth,  is  now 
and  then  called  the  dagger-point ;  the  others  being 
known  as  the  fifth  and  sixth. 

In  the  high  mountain  forest  into  which  the 
wapiti  has  been  driven,  the  large,  heavily  furred 
northern  lynx,  the  lucivee,  takes  the  place  of  the 
smaller,  thinner-haired  lynx  of  the  plains  and  of 
the  more  southern  districts,  the  bobcat  or  wildcat. 
On  the  Little  Missouri  the  latter  is  the  common 
form;  yet  I  have  seen  a  lucivee  which  was  killed 
there.  On  Clarke's  Fork  of  the  Columbia  both 
occur,  the  lucivee  being  the  most  common.  They 
feed  chiefly  on  hares,  squirrels,  grouse,  fawns,  etc. ; 
and  the  lucivee,  at  least,  also  occasionally  kills 
foxes  and  coons,  and  has  in  its  turn  to  dread  the 
pounce  of  the  big  timber  wolf.  Both  kinds  of  lynx 
can  most  easily  be  killed  with  dogs,  as  they  tree 
quite  readily  when  thus  pursued.  The  wildcat  is 
often  followed  on  horseback,  with  a  pack  of  hounds 
when  the  country  is  favorable ;  and  when  chased 
in  this  fashion  yields  excellent  sport.  The  skin  of 
both  these  lynxes  is  tender.  They  often  maul  an 
inexperienced  pack  quite  badly,  inflicting  several 
scratches  and  bites  on  any  hound  which  has  just 
resolution  enough  to  come  to  close  quarters,  but 
not  to  rush  in  furiously;  but  a  big  fighting  dog 
will  readily  kill  either.     At  Thompson's  Falls  two 


Wapiti  or  Round-Horned  Elk    203 

of  Willis's  hounds  killed  a  lucivee  unaided,  though 
one  got  torn.  Archibald  Rogers's  dog  Sly,  a  cross 
between  a  greyhound  and  a  bull  mastiff,  killed  a 
bobcat  single-handed.  He  bayed  the  cat  and  then 
began  to  threaten  it,  leaping  from  side  to  side; 
suddenly  he  broke  the  motion,  and  rushing  in  got 
his  foe  by  the  small  of  the  back  and  killed  it  with- 
out receiving  a  scratch. 

The  porcupine  is  sure  to  attract  the  notice  of 
any  one  going  through  the  mountains.  It  is  also 
found  in  the  timber  belts  fringing  the  streams  of 
the  great  plains,  where  it  lives  for  a  week  at  a  time 
in  a  single  tree  or  clump  of  trees,  peeling  the  bark 
from  the  limbs.  But  it  is  the  easiest  of  all  animals 
to  exterminate,  and  is  now  abundant  only  in  deep 
mountain  forests.  It  is  very  tame  and  stupid ;  it 
goes  on  the  ground,  but  its  fastest  pace  is  a  clumsy 
waddle,  and  on  trees,  but  is  the  poorest  of  tree- 
climbers, — grasping  the  trunk  like  a  small,  slow 
bear.  It  can  neither  escape  nor  hide.  It  trusts 
to  its  quills  for  protection,  as  the  skunk  does  to  its 
odor;  but  it  is  far  less  astute  and  more  helpless 
than  the  skunk.  It  is  readily  made  into  a  very 
unsuspicious  and  familiar,  but  uninteresting,  pet. 
I  have  known  it  come  into  camp  in  the  daytime, 
and  forage  round  the  fire  by  which  I  was  sitting. 
Its  coat  protects  it  against  most  foes.  Bears 
sometimes  eat  it  when  very  hungry,  as  they  will 
eat  anything;   and  I  think  that  elk  occasionally 


204         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

destroy  it  in  sheer  wantonness.  One  of  its  most 
resolute  foes  is  the  fisher,  that  big  sable — almost  a 
wolverine — which  preys  on  everything,  from  a 
coon  to  a  fawn,  or  even  a  small  fox. 

The  noisy,  active  little  chickarees  and  chip- 
munks, however,  are  by  far  the  most  num.erous 
and  lively  denizens  of  these  deep  forests.  They 
are  very  abundant  and  very  noisy;  scolding  the 
travellers  exactly  as  they  do  the  bears  when  the 
latter  dig  up  the  caches  of  ants.  The  chipmunks 
soon  grow  tame  and  visit  camp  to  pick  up  the 
crusts.  The  chickarees  often  ascend  to  the  high- 
est pine  tops,  where  they  cut  off  the  cones,  drop- 
ping them  to  the  ground  with  a  noise  which  often 
for  a  moment  puzzles  the  still-hunter. 

Two  of  the  most  striking  and  characteristic 
birds  to  be  seen  by  him  who  hunts  and  camps 
among  the  pine-clad  and  spruce-clad  slopes  of  the 
northern  Rockies  are  a  small  crow  and  a  rather 
large  woodpecker.  The  former  is  called  Clark's 
crow,  and  the  latter  Lewis's  woodpecker.  Their 
names  commemorate  their  discoverers,  the  ex- 
plorers Lewis  and  Clark,  the  first  white  men  who 
crossed  the  United  States  to  the  Pacific,  the  pio- 
neers of  that  great  army  of  adventurers  who  since 
then  have  roamed  and  hunted  over  the  great 
plains  and  among  the  Rocky  Mountains. 

These  birds  are  nearly  of  a  size,  being  about 
as  large  as  a  flicker.     The  Clark  crow,  an  ash- 


Wapiti  or  Round-Horned  Elk    205 

colored  bird  with  black  wings  and  white  tail  and 
forehead,  is  as  common  as  it  is  characteristic,  and 
is  sure  to  attract  attention.  It  is  as  knowing  as 
the  rest  of  its  race,  and  very  noisy  and  active.  It 
flies  sometimes  in  a  straight  line,  with  regular 
wing-beats,  sometimes  in  a  succession  of  loops 
like  a  woodpecker,  and  often  lights  on  rough  bark 
or  a  dead  stump  in  an  attitude  like  the  latter ;  and 
it  is  very  fond  of  scrambling  and  clinging,  often 
head  downwards,  among  the  outermost  cones  on 
the  top  of  a  pine,  chattering  loudly  all  the  while. 
One  of  the  noticeable  features  of  its  flight  is  the 
hollow,  beating  sound  of  the  wings.  It  is  restless 
and  fond  of  company,  going  by  preference  in  small 
parties.  These  little  parties  often  indulge  in  reg- 
ular plays,  assembling  in  some  tall  tree-top  and 
sailing  round  and  round  it,  in  noisy  pursuit  of  one 
another,  lighting  continually  among  the  branches. 
The  Lewis  woodpecker,  a  handsome,  dark- 
green  bird,  with  white  breast  and  red  belly,  is 
much  rarer,  quite  as  shy,  and  generally  less  noisy 
and  conspicuous.  Its  flight  is  usually  strong  and 
steady,  like  a  jay's,  and  it  perches  upright  among 
the  twigs,  or  takes  short  flights  after  passing  in- 
sects, as  often  as  it  scrambles  over  the  twigs  in 
the  ordinary  woodpecker  fashion.  Like  its  com- 
panion, the  Clark  crow,  it  is  ordinarily  a  bird 
of  the  high  tree-tops,  and  around  these  it  in- 
dulges in  curious  aerial  games,  again  like  those  of 


2o6         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

the  little  crow.  It  is  fond  of  going  in  troops,  and 
such  a  troop  frequently  choose  some  tall  pine  and 
soar  round  and  above  it  in  irregular  spirals. 

The  remarkable  and  almost  amphibious  little 
water-wren,  with  its  sweet  song,  its  familiarity, 
and  its  very  curious  habit  of  running  on  the 
bottom  of  the  stream,  several  feet  beneath  the 
surface  of  the  race  of  rapid  water,  is  the  most 
noticeable  of  the  small  birds  of  the  Rocky  Moun- 
tains. It  sometimes  sings  loudly  while  floating 
with  half  spread  wings  on  the  surface  of  a  little 
pool.  Taken  as  a  whole,  small  birds  are  far  less 
numerous  and  noticeable  in  the  wilderness,  especi- 
ally in  the  deep  forests,  than  in  the  groves  and 
farmland  of  the  settled  country.  The  hunter  and 
trapper  are  less  familiar  with  small-bird  music 
than  with  the  screaming  of  the  eagle  and  the 
large  hawks,  the  croaking  bark  of  the  raven, 
the  loon's  cry,  the  crane's  guttural  clangor,  and 
the  unearthly  yelling  and  hooting  of  the  big  owls. 

No  bird  is  so  common  around  camp,  so  familiar, 
so  amusing  on  some  occasions,  and  so  annoying  on 
others,  as  that  drab-colored  imp  of  iniquity,  the 
whisky- jack — also  known  as  the  moose-bird  and 
camp-robber.  The  familiarity  of  these  birds  is 
astonishing,  and  the  variety  of  their  cries — gen- 
erally harsh,  but  rarely  musical — extraordinary. 
They  snatch  scraps  of  food  from  the  entrances  of 
the  tents,  and  from  beside  the  camp-fire ;  and  they 


Wapiti  or  Round-Horned  Elk     207 

shred  the  venison  hting  in  the  trees  unless  closely 
watched.  I  have  seen  an  irate  cook  of  accurate 
aim  knock  one  off  an  elk-haunch,  with  a  club 
seized  at  random ;  and  I  have  known  another  to 
be  killed  with  a  switch,  and  yet  another  to  be 
caught  alive  in  the  hand.  When  game  is  killed 
they  are  the  first  birds  to  come  to  the  carcass. 
Following  them  come  the  big  jays,  of  a  uniform 
dark-blue  color,  who  bully  them,  and  are  bullied 
in  turn  by  the  next  arrivals,  the  magpies ;  while, 
when  the  big  ravens  come,  they  keep  all  the  others 
in  the  background,  with  the  exception  of  an  occa- 
sional wide-awake  magpie. 

For  a  steady  diet,  no  meat  tastes  better  or  is 
more  nourishing  than  elk  venison ;  moreover,  the 
different  kinds  of  grouse  give  variety  to  the  fare, 
and  delicious  trout  swarm  throughout  the  haunts 
of  the  elk  in  the  Rockies.  I  have  never  seen  them 
more  numerous  than  in  the  wonderful  and  beauti- 
ful Yellowstone  Canyon,  a  couple  of  miles  below 
where  the  river  pitches  over  the  Great  Falls,  in 
wind-swayed  cataracts  of  snowy  foam.  At  this 
point  it  runs  like  a  mill-race,  in  its  narrow,  winding 
bed,  between  immense  walls  of  queerly  carved  and 
colored  rock,  which  tower  aloft  in  almost  per- 
pendicular cliffs.  Late  one  afternoon  in  the  fall  of 
'90  Ferguson  and  I  clambered  down  into  the  can- 
yon, with  a  couple  of  rods,  and  in  an  hour  caught 
all  the  fish  we  could  carry.     It  then  lacked  much 


2o8         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

less  than  an  hour  of  nightfall,  and  we  had  a  hard 
climb  to  get  out  of  the  canyon  before  darkness 
overtook  us ;  as  there  was  not  a  vestige  of  a  path, 
and  as  the  climbing  was  exceedingly  laborious  and 
at  one  or  two  points  not  entirely  without  danger, 
the  rocks  being  practicable  in  very  few  places,  we 
could  hardly  have  made  much  progress  after  it 
became  too  dark  to  see.  Each  of  us  carried  the 
bag  of  trout  in  turn,  and  I  personally  was  nearly 
done  out  when  we  reached  the  top ;  and  then  had 
to  trot  three  miles  to  the  horses. 


CHAPTER  X 

AN    ELK-HUNT   AT   TWO-OCEAN    PASS 

IN  September,  1891,  with  my  ranch-partner, 
Ferguson,  I  made  an  elk-hunt  in  north- 
western Wyoming  among  the  Shoshone  Moun- 
tains, where  they  join  the  Hoodoo  and  Absoraka 
ranges.  There  is  no  more  beautiful  game-country 
in  the  United  States.  It  is  a  park  land,  where 
glades,  meadows,  and  high  mountain  pastures 
break  the  evergreen  forest — a  forest  which  is  open 
compared  to  the  tangled  density  of  the  woodland 
farther  north.  It  is  a  high,  cold  region  of  many 
lakes  and  clear  rushing  streams.  The  steep  moun- 
tains are  generally  of  the  rounded  form  so  often 
seen  in  the  ranges  of  the  Cordilleras  of  the  United 
States;  but  the  Hoodoos,  or  Goblins,  are  carved 
in  fantastic  and  extraordinary  shapes;  while  the 
Tetons,  a  group  of  isolated  rock-peaks,  show  a 
striking  boldness  in  their  lofty  outlines. 

This  was  one  of  the  pleasantest  hunts  I  ever 
made.  As  always  in  the  mountains,  save  where 
the  country  is  so  rough  and  so  densely  wooded 
that  one  must  go  afoot,  we  had  a  pack-train ;  and 
we  took  a  more  complete  outfit  than  we  had  ever 

VOL.  I.— 14 

209 


2IO         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

before  taken  on  such  a  hunt,  and  so  travelled  in 
much  comfort.  Usually  when  in  the  motmtains 
I  have  merely  had  one  companion,  or  at  most  a 
couple,  and  two  or  three  pack-ponies ;  each  of  us 
doing  his  share  of  the  packing,  cooking,  fetching 
water,  and  pitching  the  small  square  of  canvas 
which  served  as  tent.  In  itself,  packing  is  both  an 
art  and  a  mystery,  and  a  skilful  professional 
packer,  versed  in  the  intricacies  of  the  "diamond 
hitch,"  packs  with  a  speed  which  no  non-profes- 
sional can  hope  to  rival,  and  fixes  the  side  packs 
and  top  packs  with  such  scientific  nicety,  and  ad- 
justs the  doubles  and  turns  of  the  lash-rope  so 
accurately,  that  everything  stays  in  place  under 
any  but  the  most  adverse  conditions,  Of  course, 
like  most  hunters,  I  can  myself  in  case  of  need 
throw  the  diamond  hitch  after  a  fashion,  and  pack 
on  either  the  off  or  near  side.  Indeed,  unless  a 
man  can  pack  it  is  not  possible  to  make  a  really 
hard  hunt  in  the  mountains  if  alone,  or  with  only 
a  single  companion.  The  mere  fair-weather  hun- 
ter, who  trusts  entirely  to  the  exertions  of  others, 
and  does  nothing  more  than  ride  or  walk  about 
under  favorable  circumstances,  and  shoots  at 
what  somebody  else  shows  him,  is  a  hunter  in  name 
only.  Whoever  would  really  deserve  the  title 
must  be  able  at  a  pinch  to  shift  for  himself,  to 
grapple  with  the  difficulties  and  hardships  of 
wilderness  life  unaided,  and  not  only  to  hunt,  but 


An  Elk-Hunt  at  Two-Ocean  Pass   211 

at  times  to  travel  for  days,  whether  on  foot  or  on 
horseback,  alone.  However,  after  one  has  passed 
one's  novitiate,  it  is  pleasant  to  be  comfortable 
when  the  comfort  does  not  interfere  with  the 
sport;  and  although  a  man  sometimes  likes  to 
hunt  alone,  yet  often  it  is  well  to  be  with  some  old 
mountain  hunter,  a  master  of  woodcraft,  who  is  a 
first-rate  hand  at  finding  game,  creeping  upon  it, 
and  tracking  it  when  wounded.  With  such  a 
companion  one  gets  much  more  game,  and  learns 
many  things  by  observation  instead  of  by  painful 
experience. 

On  this  trip  we  had  with  us  two  hunters,  Taze- 
well Woody  and  Elwood  Hofer,  a  packer  who 
acted  as  cook,  and  a  boy  to  herd  the  horses.  Of 
the  latter,  there  were  twenty:  six  saddle-animals 
and  fourteen  for  the  packs — two  or  three  being 
spare  horses,  to  be  used  later  in  carrying  the  elk- 
antlers,  sheep-horns,  and  other  trophies.  Like 
most  himters'  pack-animals,  they  were  either 
half -broken,  or  else  broken  down;  tough,  un- 
kempt, jaded-looking  beasts  of  every  color — sor- 
rel, buckskin,  pinto,  white,  bay,  roan.  After  the 
day's  work  was  over,  they  were  turned  loose  to 
shift  for  themselves ;  and  about  once  a  week  they 
strayed,  and  all  hands  had  to  spend  the  better 
part  of  the  day  hunting  for  them.  The  worst 
ones  for  straying,  curiously  enough,  were  three 
brokendown  old   "bear-baits,"    which   went  by 


212         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

themselves,  as  is  generally  the  case  with  the 
cast-off  horses  of  a  herd.  There  were  two  sleeping 
tents,  another  for  the  provisions, — in  which  we  ate 
during  bad  weather, — and  a  canvas  tepee,  which 
was  put  up  with  lodge-poles,  Indian  fashion,  like  a 
wigwam.  A  tepee  is  more  difficult  to  put  up  than 
an  ordinary  tent ;  but  it  is  very  convenient  when 
there  is  rain  or  snow.  A  small  fire  kindled  in  the 
middle  keeps  it  warm,  the  smoke  escaping  through 
the  open  top — that  is,  when  it  escapes  at  all; 
strings  are  passed  from  one  pole  to  another,  on 
which  to  hang  wet  clothes  and  shoes,  and  the  beds 
are  made  around  the  edges.  As  an  offset  to  the 
warmth  and  shelter,  the  smoke  often  renders  it 
impossible  even  to  sit  upright.  We  had  a  very 
good  camp-kit,  including  plenty  of  cooking-  and 
eating-utensils;  and  among  our  provisions  were 
some  canned  goods  and  sweetmeats,  to  give  a 
relish  to  our  meals  of  meat  and  bread.  We  had 
fur  coats  and  warm  clothes, — which  are  chiefly 
needed  at  night, — and  plenty  of  bedding,  includ- 
ing waterproof  canvas  sheeting  and  a  couple  of 
caribou-hide  sleeping-bags,  procured  from  the  sur- 
vivors of  a  party  of  arctic  explorers.  Except  on 
rainy  days  I  used  my  buckskin  hunting-shirt  or 
tunic;  in  dry  weather  I  deem  it,  because  of  its 
color,  texture,  and  durability,  the  best  possible 
garb  for  the  still-hunter,  especially  in  the  woods. 
Starting  a  day's  journey  south  of  Heart  Lake, 


An  Elk- Hunt  at  Two-Ocean  Pass   213 

we  travelled  and  hunted  on  the  eastern  edge  of 
the  great  basin,  wooded  and  moiintainous,  where- 
in rises  the  head-waters  of  the  mighty  Snake 
River.  There  was  not  so  much  as  a  spotted  line — 
that  series  of  blazes  made  with  the  axe,  man's  first 
highway  through  the  hoary  forest;  but  this  we 
did  not  mind,  as  for  most  of  the  distance  we  fol- 
lowed the  well-worn  elk  trails.  The  train  travelled 
in  Indian  file.  At  the  head,  to  pick  the  path,  rode 
tall,  silent  old  Woody,  a  true  type  of  the  fast- 
vanishing  race  of  game  hunters  and  Indian  fight- 
ers, a  man  who  had  been  one  of  the  California 
forty-niners,  and  who  ever  since  had  lived  the  rest- 
less, reckless  life  of  the  wilderness.  Then  came 
Ferguson  and  myself;  then  the  pack-animals, 
strung  out  in  line;  while  from  the  rear  rose  the 
varied  oaths  of  our  three  companions,  whose  mis- 
erable duty  it  was  to  urge  forward  the  beasts  of 
burden. 

It  is  heart-breaking  work  to  drive  a  pack-train 
through  thick  timber  and  over  mountains,  where 
there  is  either  a  dim  trail  or  none.  The  animals 
have  a  perverse  faculty  for  choosing  the  wrong 
turn  at  critical  moments ;  and  they  are  continually 
scraping  under  branches  and  squeezing  between 
tree-trunks,  to  the  jeopardy  or  destruction  of 
their  burdens.  After  having  been  laboriously 
driven  up  a  very  steep  incline,  at  the  cost  of  severe 
exertion  both  to  them  and  to  the  men,  the  foolish 


214  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

creatures  turn  and  run  down  to  the  bottom,  so 
that  all  the  work  has  to  be  done  over  again.  Some 
travel  too  slow ;  others  travel  too  fast.  Yet  one 
cannot  but  admire  the  toughness  of  the  animals, 
and  the  surefootedness  with  which  they  pick  their 
way  along  the  sheer  mountain-sides,  or  among 
boulders  and  over  fallen  logs. 

As  our  way  was  so  rough,  we  found  that  we  had 
to  halt  at  least  once  every  hour  to  fix  the  packs. 
Moreover,  we  at  the  head  of  the  column  were 
continually  being  appealed  to  for  help  by  the  un- 
fortunates in  the  rear.  First  it  would  be  "  that 
white-eyed  cay  use;  one  side  of  its  pack  's  down!" 
then  we  would  be  notified  that  the  saddle-blanket 
of  the  "lop-eared  Indian  buckskin"  had  slipped 
back;  then  a  shout  ''Look  out  for  the  pinto!" 
would  be  followed  by  that  pleasing  beast's  appear- 
ance, bucking  and  squealing,  smashing  dead  tim- 
ber, and  scattering  its  load  to  the  four  winds.  It 
was  no  easy  task  to  get  the  horses  across  some  of 
the  boggy  places  without  miring ;  or  to  force  them 
through  the  denser  portions  of  the  forest,  where 
there  was  much  down  timber.  Riding  with  a 
pack-train,  day  in  and  day  out,  becomes  both 
monotonous  and  irritating,  unless  one  is  upheld 
by  the  hope  of  a  game  country  ahead,  or  by  the 
delight  of  exploration  of  the  unknown.  Yet  when 
buoyed  by  such  a  hope,  there  is  pleasure  in  taking 
a  train  across  so  beautiful  and  wild  a  country  as 


An  Elk-Hunt  at  Two-Ocean  Pass   215 

that  which  lay  on  the  threshold  of  our  hunting- 
grounds  in  the  Shoshones,  We  went  over  moun- 
tain passes,  with  ranges  of  scalped  peaks  on  either 
hand ;  we  skirted  the  edges  of  lovely  lakes,  and  of 
streams  with  boulder-strewn  beds;  we  plunged 
into  depths  of  sombre  woodland,  broken  by  wet 
prairies.  It  was  a  picturesque  sight  to  see  the 
loaded  pack-train  stringing  across  one  of  these 
high  mountain  meadows,  the  raotley  colored  line 
of  ponies  winding  round  the  marshy  spots  through 
the  bright  green  grass,  while  beyond  rose  the  dark 
line  of  frowning  forest,  with  lofty  peaks  towering 
in  the  background.  Some  of  the  meadows  were 
beautiful  with  many  flowers — goldenrod,  purple 
aster,  bluebells,  white  immortelles,  and  here  and 
there  masses  of  blood-red  Indian  pinks.  In  the 
park  country,  on  the  edges  of  the  evergreen  forest, 
were  groves  of  delicate  quaking-aspen,  the  trees 
often  growing  to  quite  a  height ;  their  tremulous 
leaves  were  already  changing  to  bright  green  and 
yellow,  occasionally  with  a  reddish  blush.  In  the 
Rocky  Mountains  the  aspens  are  almost  the  only 
deciduous  trees,  their  foliage  offering  a  pleasant 
relief  to  the  eye  after  the  monotony  of  the  unend- 
ing pine  and  spruce  woods,  which  afford  so  strik- 
ing a  contrast  to  the  hardwood  forest  east  of  the 
Mississippi. 

For  two  days  our  journey  was  uneventful,  save 
that  we  came  on  the  camp  of  a  squaw-man — one 


2i6         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

Beaver  Dick,  an  old  mountain  hunter,  living  in  a 
skin  tepee,  where  dwelt  his  comely  Indian  wife 
and  half-breed  children.  He  had  quite  a  herd  of 
horses,  many  of  them  mares  and  colts ;  they  had 
evidently  been  well  treated,  and  came  up  to  us 
fearlessly. 

The  morning  of  the  third  day  of  our  journey 
was  gray  and  lowering.  Gusts  of  rain  blew  in  my 
face  as  I  rode  at  the  head  of  the  train.  It  still 
lacked  an  hour  of  noon,  as  we  were  plodding  up  a 
valley  beside  a  rapid  brook  running  through  nar- 
row willow-flats,  the  dark  forest  crowding  down 
on  either  hand  from  the  low  foothills  of  the  moun- 
tains. Suddenly  the  call  of  a  bull  elk  came  echoing 
down  through  the  wet  woodland  on  our  right,  be- 
yond the  brook,  seemingly  less  than  half  a  mile 
off,  and  was  answered  by  a  faint,  far-off  call  from 
a  rival  on  the  mountain  beyond.  Instantly  halt- 
ing the  train.  Woody  and  I  slipped  off  our  horses, 
crossed  the  brook,  and  started  to  still-hunt  the 
first  bull. 

In  this  place  the  forest  was  composed  of  the 
western  tamarack;  the  large,  tall  trees  stood  well 
apart,  and  there  was  much  down  timber,  but  the 
ground  was  covered  with  deep  wet  moss,  over 
which  we  trod  silently.  The  elk  was  travelling 
up-wind,  but  slowly,  stopping  continually  to  paw 
the  ground  and  thresh  the  bushes  with  his  antlers. 
He  was  very  noisy,  challenging  every  minute  or 


An  Elk-Hunt  at  Two-Ocean  Pass   217 

two,  being  doubtless  much  excited  by  the  neigh- 
borhood of  his  rival  on  the  mountain.  We  fol- 
lowed, Woody  leading,  guided  by  the  incessant 
calling. 

It  was  very  exciting  as  we  crept  toward  the 
great  bull,  and  the  challenge  sounded  nearer  and 
nearer.  While  we  were  still  at  some  distance  the 
pealing  notes  were  like  those  of  a  bugle,  delivered 
in  two  bars,  first  rising,  then  abruptly  falling;  as 
we  drew  nearer  they  took  on  a  harsh  squealing 
sound.  Each  call  made  our  veins  thrill ;  it  sotmded 
like  the  cry  of  some  huge  beast  of  prey.  At  last 
we  heard  the  roar  of  the  challenge  not  eighty  yards 
off.  Stealing  forward  three  or  four  yards,  I  saw 
the  tips  of  the  horns  through  a  mass  of  dead  tim- 
ber and  young  growth,  and  I  slipped  to  one  side 
to  get  a  clean  shot.  Seeing  us,  but  not  making 
out  what  we  were,  and  full  of  fierce  and  insolent 
excitement,  the  wapiti  bull  stepped  boldly  toward 
us  with  a  stately  swinging  gait.  Then  he  stood 
motionless,  facing  us,  barely  fifty  yards  away,  his 
handsome  twelve-tined  antlers  tossed  aloft,  as  he 
held  his  head  with  the  lordly  grace  of  his  kind.  I 
fired  into  his  chest,  and  as  he  turned  I  raced  for- 
ward and  shot  him  in  the  flank;  but  the  second 
bullet  was  not  needed,  for  the  first  wound  was 
mortal,  and  he  fell  before  going  fifty  yards. 

The  dead  elk  lay  among  the  young  evergreens. 
The  huge,  shapely  body  was  set  on  legs  that  were 


2i8         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

as  strong  as  steel  rods,  and  yet  slender,  clean,  and 
smooth;  they  were  in  color  a  beautiful  dark 
brown,  contrasting  well  with  the  yellowish  of  the 
body.  The  neck  and  throat  were  garnished  with 
a  mane  of  long  hair;  the  symmetry  of  the  great 
horns  set  off  the  fine,  delicate  lines  of  the  noble 
head.  He  had  been  wallowing,  as  elk  are  fond  of 
doing,  and  the  dried  mud  clung  in  patches  to  his 
flank;  a  stab  in  the  haunch  showed  that  he  had 
been  overcome  in  battle  by  some  master  bull  who 
had  turned  him  out  of  the  herd. 

We  cut  off  the  head,  and  bore  it  down  to  the 
train.  The  horses  crowded  together,  snorting, 
with  their  ears  pricked  forward,  as  they  smelt  the 
blood.  We  also  took  the  loins  with  us,  as  we  were 
out  of  meat,  though  bull  elk  in  the  rutting  season 
is  not  very  good.  The  rain  had  changed  to  a 
steady  downpour  when  we  again  got  under  way. 
Two  or  three  miles  farther  we  pitched  camp,  in  a 
clump  of  pines  on  a  hillock  in  the  bottom  of  the 
valley,  starting  hot  fires  of  pitchy  stumps  before 
the  tents,  to  dry  our  wet  things. 

Next  day  opened  with  fog  and  cold  rain.  The 
drenched  pack-animals,  when  driven  into  camp, 
stood  mopingly,  with  drooping  heads  and  arched 
backs;  they  groaned  and  grunted  as  the  loads 
were  placed  on  their  backs  and  the  cinches  tight- 
ened, the  packers  bracing  one  foot  against  the 
pack  to  get  a  purchase  as  they  hauled  in  on  the 


An  Elk-Hunt  at  Two-Ocean  Pass  219 

lash-rope.  A  stormy  morning  is  a  trial  to  temper ; 
the  packs  are  wet  and  heavy,  and  the  cold  makes 
the  work  even  more  than  usually  hard  on  the 
hands.  By  ten  we  broke  camp.  It  needs  be- 
tween two  and  three  hours  to  break  camp  and  get 
such  a  train  properly  packed;  once  started,  our 
day's  journey  was  six  to  eight  hours,  making  no 
halt.  We  started  up  a  steep,  pine-clad  mountain- 
side, broken  by  cliffs.  My  hunting-shoes,  though 
comfortable,  were  old  and  thin,  and  let  the  water 
through  like  a  sieve.  On  the  top  of  the  first  pla- 
teau, where  black  spruce  groves  were  strewn 
across  the  grassy  surface,  we  saw  a  band  of  elk, 
cows  and  calves,  trotting  off  through  the  rain. 
Then  we  plunged  down  into  a  deep  valley,  and, 
crossing  it,  a  hard  climb  took  us  to  the  top  of  a 
great  bare  table -land,  bleak  and  wind-swept.  We 
passed  little  alpine  lakes,  fringed  with  scattering 
dwarf  evergreens.  Snow  lay  in  drifts  on  the 
north  side  of  the  gullies ;  a  cutting  wind  blew  the 
icy  rain  in  our  faces.  For  two  or  three  hours  we 
travelled  toward  the  farther  edge  of  the  table- 
land. In  one  place  a  spike  bull  elk  stood  half  a 
mile  off,  in  the  open;  he  travelled  to  and  fro, 
watching  us. 

As  we  neared  the  edge  the  storm  lulled,  and 
pale,  watery  sunshine  gleamed  through  the  rifts 
in  the  low-scudding  clouds.  At  last  our  horses 
stood  on  the  brink  of  a  bold  cliff.      Deep  down 


2  20         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

beneath  our  feet  lay  the  wild  and  lonely  valley  of 
Two-Ocean  Pass,  walled  in  on  either  hand  by 
rugged  mountain  chains,  their  flanks  scarred  and 
gashed  by  precipice  and  chasm.  Beyond,  in  a 
wilderness  of  jagged  and  barren  peaks,  stretched 
the  Shoshones.  At  the  middle  point  of  the  pass, 
two  streams  welled  down  from  either  side.  At 
first  each  flowed  in  but  one  bed,  but  soon  divided 
into  two;  each  of  the  twin  branches  then  joined 
the  like  branch  of  the  brook  opposite,  and  swept 
one  to  the  east  and  one  to  the  west,  on  their  long 
journey  to  the  two  great  oceans.  They  ran  as 
rapid  brooks,  through  wet  meadows  and  willow- 
fiats,  the  eastern  to  the  Yellowstone,  the  western 
to  the  Snake.  The  dark  pine  forests  swept  down 
from  the  flanks  and  lower  ridges  of  the  mountains 
to  the  edges  of  the  marshy  valley.  Above  them 
jutted  gray  rock-peaks,  snowdrifts  lying  in  the 
rents  that  seamed  their  northern  faces.  Far  be- 
low us,  from  a  great  basin  at  the  foot  of  the  cliff, 
filled  with  the  pine  forest,  rose  the  musical  chal- 
lenge of  a  bull  elk ;  and  we  saw  a  band  of  cows  and 
calves  looking  like  mice  as  they  ran  among  the 
trees. 

It  was  getting  late,  and  after  some  search  we 
failed  to  find  any  trail  leading  down ;  so  at  last  we 
plunged  over  the  brink  at  a  venture.  It  was  very 
rough  scrambling,  dropping  from  bench  to  bench, 
and  in  places  it  was  not  only  difficult  but  danger- 


An  Elk-Hunt  at  Two-Ocean  Pass  221 

ous  for  the  loaded  pack-animals.  Here  and  there 
we  were  helped  by  well-beaten  elk  trails,  which  we 
could  follow  for  several  hundred  yards  at  a  time. 
On  one  narrow  pine-clad  ledge,  we  met  a  spike 
bull  face  to  face ;  and  in  scrambling  down  a  very 
steep,  bare,  rock-strewn  shoulder  the  loose  stones 
started  by  the  horses'  hoofs,  bounding  in  great 
leaps  to  the  forest  below,  dislodged  two  cows. 

As  evening  fell,  we  reached  the  bottom,  and 
pitched  camp  in  a  beautiful  point  of  open  pine 
forest,  thrust  out  into  the  meadow.  There  was 
good  shelter,  and  plenty  of  wood,  water,  and 
grass ;  we  built  a  huge  fire  and  put  up  our  tents, 
scattering  them  in  likely  places  among  the  pines, 
which  grew  far  apart  and  without  undergrowth. 
We  dried  our  steaming  clothes,  and  ate  a  hearty 
supper  of  elk-meat ;  then  we  turned  into  our  beds, 
warm  and  dry,  and  slept  soundly  under  the  can- 
vas, while  all  night  long  the  storm  roared  with- 
out. Next  morning  it  still  stormed  fitfully;  the 
high  peaks  and  ridges  round  about  were  all  capped 
with  snow.  Woody  and  I  started  on  foot  for  an 
all-day  tramp ;  the  amount  of  game  seen  the  day 
before  showed  that  we  were  in  good  elk  country, 
where  the  elk  had  been  so  little  disturbed  that 
they  were  travelling,  feeding,  and  whistling  in 
daylight.  For  three  hours  we  walked  across  the 
forest-clad  spurs  of  the  foothills.  We  roused  a 
small  band  of  elk  in  thick  timber;    but  they 


222         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

rushed  off  before  we  saw  them,  with  much 
smashing  of  dead  branches.  Then  we  climbed  to 
the  summit  of  the  range.  The  wind  was  Hght 
and  baffling;  it  blew  from  all  points,  veering 
every  few  minutes.  There  were  occasional  rain- 
squalls;  our  feet  and  legs  were^well  soaked;  and 
we  became  chilled  through  whenever  we  sat 
down  to  listen.  We  caught  a  glimpse  of  a  big 
bull  feeding  up-hill,  and  followed  him;  it  needed 
smart  running  to  overtake  him,  for  an  elk,  even 
while  feeding,  has  a  ground-covering  gait.  Fin- 
ally we  got  within  a  hundred  and  twenty-five 
yards,  but  in  very  thick  timber,  and  all  I  could 
see  plainly  was  the  hip  and  the  after-part  of  the 
flank.  I  waited  for  a  chance  at  the  shoulder, 
but  the  bull  got  my  wind  and  was  off  before  I 
could  pull  trigger.  It  was  just  one  of  those  oc- 
casions when  there  are  two  courses  to  pursue, 
neither  very  good,  and  when  one  is  apt  to  regret 
whichever  decision  is  made. 

At  noon  we  came  to  the  edge  of  a  deep  and 
wide  gorge,  and  sat  down  shivering  to  wait  what 
might  turn  up,  our  fingers  numb,  and  our  wet 
feet  icy.  Suddenly  the  love-challenge  of  an  elk 
came  pealing  across  the  gorge,  through  the  fine, 
cold  rain,  from  the  heart  of  the  forest  opposite 
An  hour's  stiff  climb,  down  and  up,  brought  us 
nearly  to  him ;  but  the  wind  forced  us  to  advance 
from  below  through  a  series  of  open  glades.     He 


An  Elk-Hunt  at  Two-Ocean  Pass   223 

was  lying  on  a  point  of  the  cliff-shoulder,  sur- 
rounded by  his  cows,  and  he  saw  us  and  made 
off.  An  hour  afterward,  as  we  were  trudging  up 
a  steep  hillside  dotted  with  groves  of  fir  and 
spruce,  a  young  bull  of  ten  points,  roused  from 
his  day-bed  by  our  approach,  galloped  across  us 
some  sixty  yards  off.  We  were  in  need  of  better 
venison  than  can  be  furnished  by  an  old  rutting 
bull;  so  I  instantly  took  shot  at  the  fat  and 
tender  young  ten-pointer.  I  aimed  well  ahead 
and  pulled  trigger  just  as  he  came  to  a  small  gully, 
and  he  fell  into  it  in  a  heap  with  a  resounding 
crash.  This  was  on  the  birthday  of  my  eldest 
small  son;  so  I  took  him  home  the  horns,  ''for 
his  very  own."  On  the  way  back  that  after- 
noon I  shot  off  the  heads  of  two  blue  grouse,  as 
they  perched  in  the  pines. 

That  evening  the  storm  broke,  and  the  weather 
became  clear  and  very  cold,  so  that  the  snow 
made  the  frosty  mountains  gleam  like  silver. 
The  moon  was  full,  and  in  the  flood  of  light  the 
wild  scenery  round  our  camp  was  very  beautiful. 
As  always  where  we  camped  for  several  days,  we 
had  fixed  long  tables  and  settles,  and  were  most 
comfortable ;  and  when  we  came  in  at  nightfall,  or 
sometimes  long  afterward,  cold,  tired,  and  hun- 
gry, it  was  sheer  physical  delight  to  get  warm 
before  the  roaring  fire  of  pitchy  stumps,  and  then 
to  feast  ravenously  on  bread  and  beans,  on  stewed 


2  24         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

or  roasted  elk  venison,  on  grouse,  and  sometimes 
trout,  and  flapjacks  with  maple  syrup. 

Next  morning  dawned  clear  and  cold,  the  sky 
a  glorious  blue.  Woody  and  I  started  to  hunt 
over  the  great  table-land,  and  led  our  stout  horses 
up  the  mountain-side,  by  elk  trails  so  bad  that 
they  had  to  climb  like  goats.  All  these  elk  trails 
have  one  striking  peculiarity.  They  lead  through 
thick  timber,  but  every  now  and  then  send  off 
short,  well-worn  branches  to  some  cliff-edge  or 
jutting  crag,  commanding  a  view  far  and  wide 
over  the  country  beneath.  Elk  love  to  stand  on 
these  lookout  points,  and  scan  the  valleys  and 
mountains  round  about. 

Blue  grouse  rose  from  beside  our  path ;  Clarke's 
crows  flew  past  us,  with  a  hollow,  flapping  sound, 
or  lit  in  the  pine-tops,  calling  and  flirting  their 
tails;  the  gray-clad  whisky-jacks,  with  multi- 
tudinous cries,  hopped  and  fluttered  near  us. 
Snow-shoe  rabbits  scuttled  away,  the  big  furry 
feet  which  give  them  their  name  already  turning 
white.  At  last  we  came  out  on  the  great  plateau, 
seamed  with  deep,  narrow  ravines.  Reaches  of 
pasture  alternated  with  groves  and  open  forests 
of  varying  size.  Almost  immediately  we  heard 
the  bugle  of  a  bull  elk,  and  saw  a  big  band  of 
cows  and  calves  on  the  other  side  of  a  valley. 
There  were  three  bulls  with  them,  one  very  large, 
and  we  tried  to  creep  up  on  them ;  but  the  wind 


An  Elk-Hunt  at  Two-Ocean  Pass   225 

was  baffling  and  spoiled  our  stalk.  So  we  re- 
turned to  our  horses,  mounted  them,  and  rode  a 
mile  farther,  toward  a  large  open  wood  on  a  hill- 
side. When  within  two  hundred  yards  we  heard 
directly  ahead  the  bugle  of  a  bull,  and  pulled  up 
short.  In  a  moment  I  saw  him  walking  through 
an  open  glade;  he  had  not  seen  us.  The  slight 
breeze  brought  us  down  his  scent.  Elk  have  a 
strong  characteristic  smell;  it  is  usually  sweet, 
like  that  of  a  herd  of  Aldemey  cows;  but  in  old 
bulls,  while  rutting,  it  is  rank,  pimgent,  and 
lasting.  We  stood  motionless  till  the  bull  was 
out  of  sight,  then  stole  to  the  wood,  tied  our 
horses,  and  trotted  after  him.  He  was  travelling 
fast,  occasionally  calling;  whereupon  others  in 
the  neighborhood  would  answer.  Evidently  he 
had  been  driven  out  of  some  herd  by  the  master 
bull. 

He  went  faster  than  we  did,  and  while  we  were 
vainly  trying  to  overtake  him  we  heard  another 
very  loud  and  sonorous  challenge  to  our  left.  It 
came  from  a  ridge-crest  at  the  edge  of  the  woods, 
among  some  scattered  clumps  of  the  northern 
nut-pine  or  pinyon — a  queer  conifer,  growing  very 
high  on  the  mountains,  its  multiforked  trunk  and 
wide-spreading  branches  giving  it  the  rounded 
top,  and,  at  a  distance,  the  general  look  of  an 
oak  rather  than  a  pine.  We  at  once  walked 
toward  the  ridge,  up-wind.     In  a  minute  or  two, 

VOL.  I. — 15. 


226         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

to  our  chagrin,  we  stumbled  on  an  out-lying 
spike  bull,  evidently  kept  on  the  out-skirts  of  the 
herd  by  the  master  bull.  I  thought  he  would 
alarm  all  the  rest;  but,  as  we  stood  motionless, 
he  could  not  see  clearly  what  we  were.  He 
stood,  ran,  stood  again,  gazed  at  us,  and  trotted 
slowly  off.  We  hurried  forward  as  fast  as  we 
dared,  and  with  too  little  care;  for  we  suddenly 
came  in  view  of  two  cows.  As  they  raised  their 
heads  to  look,  Woody  squatted  down  where  he 
was,  to  keep  their  attention  fixed,  while  I  cau- 
tiously tried  to  slip  off  to  one  side  unobserved. 
Favored  by  the  neutral  tint  of  my  buckskin 
hunting-shirt,  with  which  my  shoes,  leggins,  and 
soft  hat  matched,  I  succeeded.  As  soon  as  I 
was  out  of  sight  I  ran  hard  and  came  up  to  a 
hillock  crested  with  pinyons,  behind  which  I 
judged  I  should  find  the  herd.  As  I  approached 
the  crest,  their  strong,  sweet  smell  smote  my 
nostrils.  In  another  moment  I  saw  the  tips  of  a 
pair  of  mighty  antlers,  and  I  peered  over  the 
crest  with  my  rifle  at  the  ready.  Thirty  yards  off, 
behind  a  clump  of  pinyons,  stood  a  huge  bull,  his 
head  thrown  back  as  he  rubbed  his  shoulders 
with  his  horns.  There  were  several  cows  around 
him,  and  one  saw  me  immediately,  and  took 
alarm.  I  fired  into  the  bull's  shoulder,  inflicting 
a  mortal  wound;  but  he  went  off,  and  I  raced 
after  him  at  top  speed,  firing  twice  into  his  flank: 


An  Elk-Hunt  at  Two-Ocean  Pass  227 

then  he  stopped,  very  sick,  and  I  broke  his  neck 
with  a  fourth  bullet.  An  elk  often  hesitates  in 
the  first  moments  of  surprise  and  fright,  and 
does  not  get  really  under  way  for  two  or  three 
hundred  yards;  but,  when  once  fairly  started, 
he  may  go  several  miles,  even  though  mortally 
wounded;  therefore,  the  hunter,  after  his  first 
shot,  should  run  forward  as  fast  as  he  can,  and 
shoot  again  and  again  until  the  quarry  drops. 
In  this  way  many  animals  that  would  be  other- 
wise lost  are  obtained,  especially  by  the  man  who 
has  a  repeating-rifle.  Nevertheless,  the  hunter 
should  beware  of  being  led  astray  by  the  ease 
with  which  he  can  fire  half  a  dozen  shots  from 
his  repeater;  and  he  should  aim  as  carefully  with 
each  shot  as  if  it  were  his  last.  No  possible 
rapidity  of  fire  can  atone  for  habitual  careless- 
ness of  aim  with  the  first  shot. 

The  elk  I  thus  slew  was  a  giant.  His  body 
was  the  size  of  a  steer's,  and  his  antlers,  though 
not  -unusually  long,  were  very  massive  and  heavy. 
He  lay  in  a  glade,  on  the  edge  of  a  great  cliff. 
Standing  on  its  brink  we  overlooked  a  most 
beautiful  country,  the  home  of  all  homes  for  the 
elk:  a  -wilderness  of  mountains,  the  immense 
evergreen  forest  broken  by  park  and  glade,  by 
meadow  and  pasture,  by  bare  hillside  and  barren 
table-land.  Some  five  miles  off  lay  the  sheet  of 
water  known  to  the  old  hunters  as  Spotted  Lake ; 


228         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

two  or  three  shallow,  sedgy  places,  and  spots  of 
geyser  formation,  made  pale  green  blotches  on 
its  wind-rippled  surface.  Far  to  the  southwest, 
in  daring  beauty  and  majesty,  the  grand  domes 
and  lofty  spires  of  the  Tetons  shot  into  the  blue 
sky.  Too  sheer  for  the  snow  to  rest  on  their 
sides,  it  yet  filled  the  rents  in  their  rough  flanks, 
and  lay  deep  between  the  towering  pinnacles  of 
dark  rock. 

That  night,  as  on  more  than  one  night  after- 
ward, a  bull  elk  came  down  whistling  to  within 
two  or  three  hundred  yards  of  the  tents,  and 
tried  to  join  the  horse-herd.  The  moon  had  set, 
so  I  could  not  go  after  it.  Elk  are  very  restless 
and  active  throughout  the  night  in  the  rutting 
season;  but  where  undisturbed  they  feed  freely 
in  the  daytime,  resting  for  two  or  three  hours 
about  noon. 

Next  day,  which  was  rainy,  we  spent  in  getting 
in  the  antlers  and  meat  of  the  two  dead  elk ;  and 
I  shot  off  the  heads  of  two  or  three  blue  grouse  on 
the  way  home.  The  following  day  I  killed  an- 
other bull  elk,  following  him  by  the  strong,  not 
unpleasing,  smell,  and  hitting  him  twice  as  he 
ran,  at  about  eighty  yards.  So  far  I  had  had 
good  luck,  killing  everything  I  had  shot  at;  but 
now  the  luck  changed,  through  no  fault  of  mine, 
as  far  as  I  could  see,  and  Ferguson  had  his  in- 
nings.    The  day  after  I  killed  this  bull  he  shot 


An  Elk-Hunt  at  Two-Ocean  Pass   229 

two  fine  mountain  rams ;  and  during  the  remain- 
der of  our  hunt  he  killed  five  elk — one  cow,  for 
meat,  and  four  good  bulls.  The  two  rams  were 
with  three  others,  all  old  and  with  fine  horns; 
Ferguson  peeped  over  a  lofty  precipice  and  saw 
them  coming  up  it  only  fifty  yards  below  him. 
His  two  first  and  finest  bulls  were  obtained  by 
hard  running  and  good  shooting;  the  herds  were 
on  the  move  at  the  time,  and  only  his  speed  of 
foot  and  soundness  of  wind  enabled  him  to  get 
near  enough  for  a  shot.  One  herd  started  before 
he  got  close,  and  he  killed  the  master  bull  by  a 
shot  right  through  the  heart,  as  it  trotted  past, 
a  hundred  and  fifty  yards  distant. 

As  for  me,  during  the  next  ten  days  I  killed 
nothing  save  one  cow  for  meat ;  and  this  though 
I  hunted  hard  every  day  from  morning  till  night, 
no  matter  what  the  weather.  It  was  stormy,  with 
hail  and  snow  every  day  almost ;  and  after  work- 
ing hard  from  dawn  until  nightfall,  laboriously 
climbing  the  slippery  mountain-sides,  walking 
through  the  wet  woods,  and  struggling  across 
the  bare  plateaus  and  cliff -shoulders,  while  the 
violent  blasts  of  wind  drove  the  frozen  rain  in 
our  faces,  we  would  come  in  after  dusk  wet 
through  and  chilled  to  the  marrow.  Even  when 
it  rained  in  the  valleys  it  snowed  on  the  moun- 
tain-tops, and  there  was  no  use  trying  to  keep  our 
feet  dry.     I  got  three  shots  at  bull  elk,  two  being 


230         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

very  hurried  snap-shots  at  animals  running  in 
thick  timber,  the  other  a  running-shot  in  the  open, 
at  over  two  hundred  yards;  and  I  missed  all 
three.  On  most  days  I  saw  no  bull  worth  shoot- 
ing ;  the  two  or  three  I  did  see  or  hear  we  failed 
to  stalk,  the  light,  shifty  wind  baffling  us,  or  else 
an  outlying  cow  which  we  had  not  seen  giving 
the  alarm.  There  were  many  blue  and  a  few 
ruffed  grouse  in  the  woods,  and  I  occasionally 
shot  off  the  heads  of  a  couple  on  my  way  home- 
ward in  the  evening.  In  racing  after  one  elk,  I 
leaped  across  a  gully  and  so  bruised  and  twisted 
my  heel  on  a  rock  that,  for  the  remainder  of  my 
stay  in  the  mountains,  I  had  to  walk  on  the  fore 
part  of  that  foot.  This  did  not  interfere  much 
with  my  walking,  however,  except  in  going  down 
hill. 

Our  ill  success  was  in  part  due  to  sheer  bad 
luck;  but  the  chief  element  therein  was  the  pres- 
ence of  a  great  hunting-party  of  Shoshone  In- 
dians. Split  into  bands  of  eight  or  ten  each, 
they  scoured  the  whole  country  on  their  tough, 
sure-footed  ponies.  They  always  hunted  on 
horseback,  and  followed  the  elk  at  full  speed 
wherever  they  went.  Their  method  of  hunting 
was  to  organize  great  drives,  the  riders  strung  in 
lines  far  apart ;  they  signalled  to  one  another  by 
means  of  willow  whistles,  with  which  they  also 
imitated  the  calling  of  the  bull  elk,  thus  tolling 


An  Elk-Hunt  at  Two-Ocean  Pass  231 

the  animals  to  them,  or  making  them  betray 
their  whereabouts.  As  they  slew  whatever  they 
could,  but  by  preference  cows  and  calves,  and  as 
they  were  very  persevering,  but  also  very  excit- 
able and  generally  poor  shots,  so  that  they  wasted 
much  powder,  they  not  only  wrought  havoc 
among  the  elk,  but  also  scared  the  survivors  out 
of  all  the  country  over  which  they  hunted. 

Day  in  and  day  out  we  plodded  on.  In  a 
himting  trip  the  days  of  long  monotony  in  getting 
to  the  ground,  and  the  days  of  unrequited  toil 
after  it  has  been  reached,  always  far  outnumber 
the  red-letter  days  of  success.  But  it  is  just 
these  times  of  failure  that  really  test  the  hunter. 
In  the  long  run,  common  sense  and  dogged  perse- 
verence  avail  him  more  than  any  other  qualities. 
The  man  who  does  not  give  up,  but  hunts  steadily 
and  resolutely  through  the  spells  of  bad  luck  un- 
till  the  luck  turns,  is  the  man  who  wins  success 
in  the  end. 

After  a  week  at  Two-Ocean  Pass,  we  gathered 
our  pack-animals  one  frosty  m^oming,  and  again 
set  off  across  the  mountains.  A  two  days'  jaunt 
took  us  to  the  summit  of  Wolverine  Pass,  near 
Pinyon  Peak,  beside  a  little  mountain  tarn ;  each 
morning  we  found  its  surface  skimmed  with  black 
ice,  for  the  nights  were  cold.  After  three  or  four 
days,  we  shifted  camp  to  the  mouth  of  Wolverine 
Creek,  to  get  off  the  hunting-grounds  of  the  In- 


232  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

dians.  We  had  used  up  our  last  elk-meat  that 
morning,  and  when  we  were  within  a  couple  of 
hours'  journey  of  our  intended  halting-place, 
Woody  and  I  struck  off  on  foot  for  a  hunt.  Just 
before  sunset  we  came  on  three  or  four  elk;  a 
spike  bull  stood  for  a  moment  behind  some  thick 
evergreens  a  hundred  yards  off.  Guessing  at  his 
shoulder,  I  fired,  and  he  fell  dead  after  running 
a  few  rods,  I  had  broken  the  luck,  after  ten 
days  of  ill  success. 

Next  morning  Woody  and  I,  with  the  packer, 
rode  to  where  this  elk  lay.  We  loaded  the  meat 
on  a  pack-horse,  and  let  the  packer  take  both 
the  loaded  animal  and  our  own  saddle-horses 
back  to  camp,  while  we  made  a  hunt  on  foot. 
We  went  up  the  steep,  forest-clad  mountain-side, 
and  before  we  had  walked  an  hour  heard  two  elk 
whistling  ahead  of  us.  The  woods  were  open, 
and  quite  free  from  undergrowth,  and  we  were 
able  to  advance  noiselessly;  there  was  no  wind, 
for  the  weather  was  still,  clear,  and  cold.  Both 
of  the  elk  were  evidently  very  much  excited,  an- 
swering each  other  continually ;  they  had  probably 
been  master  bulls,  but  had  become  so  exhausted 
that  their  rivals  had  driven  them  from  the  herds, 
forcing  them  to  remain  in  seclusion  until  they  re- 
gained their  lost  strength.  As  we  crept  stealthily 
forward,  the  calling  grew  louder  and  louder, 
until  we   could   hear   the   grunting   sounds  with 


An  Elk-Hunt  at  Two-Ocean  Pass  233 

which  the  challenge  of  the  nearest  ended.  He 
was  in  a  large  wallow,  which  was  also  a  lick. 
When  we  were  still  sixty  yards  ofiE,  he  heard  us, 
and  rushed  out,  but  wheeled  and  stood  a  moment 
to  gaze,  puzzled  by  my  buckskin  suit.  I  fired 
into  his  throat,  breaking  his  neck,  and  down  he 
went  in  a  heap.  Rushing  in  and  turning,  I  called 
to  Woody,  ''He's  a  twelve-pointer,  but  the  horns 
are  small!"  As  I  spoke  I  heard  the  roar  of  the 
challenge  of  the  other  bull  not  two  hundred  yards 
ahead,  as  if  in  defiant  answer  to  my  shot. 

Running  quietly  forward,  I  speedily  caught  a 
glimpse  of  his  body.  He  was  behind  some  fir- 
trees  about  seventy  yards  off,  and  I  could  not 
see  which  way  he  was  standing,  and  so  fired  into 
the  patch  of  flank  which  was  visible,  aiming  high, 
to  break  the  back.  My  aim  was  true,  and  the 
huge  beast  crashed  down-hill  through  the  ever- 
greens, pulling  himself  on  his  fore  legs  for  fifteen 
or  twenty  rods,  his  hind  quarters  trailing.  Rac- 
ing forward,  I  broke  his  neck.  His  antlers  were 
the  finest  I  ever  got.  A  couple  of  whisky- jacks 
appeared  at  the  first  crack  of  the  rifle  with  their 
customary  astonishing  familiarity  and  heedless- 
ness of  the  hunter;  they  followed  the  wounded 
bull  as  he  dragged  his  great  carcass  down  the 
hill,  and  pounced  with  ghoulish  bloodthirstiness 
on  the  gouts  of  blood  that  were  sprinkled  over 
the  green  herbage. 


234         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

These  two  bulls  lay  only  a  couple  of  hundred 
yards  apart,  on  a  broad  game  trail,  which  was  as 
well  beaten  as  a  good  bridle-path.  We  began  to 
skin  out  the  heads;  and  as  we  were  finishing  we 
heard  another  bull  challenging  far  up  the  moun- 
tain. He  came  nearer  and  nearer,  and  as  soon 
as  we  had  ended  our  work  we  grasped  our  rifles 
and  trotted  toward  him  along  the  game  trail. 
He  was  very  noisy,  uttering  his  loud,  singing 
challenge  every  minute  or  two.  The  trail  was 
so  broad  and  firm  that  we  walked  in  perfect 
silence.  After  going  only  five  or  six  hundred 
yards,  we  got  very  close  indeed,  and  stole  for- 
ward on  tip-toe,  listening  to  the  roaring  music. 
The  sound  came  from  a  steep  narrow  ravine,  to 
one  side  of  the  trail,  and  I  walked  toward  it  with 
my  rifle  at  the  ready.  A  slight  puff  gave  the  elk 
my  wind,  and  he  dashed  out  of  the  ravine  like  a 
deer;  but  he  was  only  thirty  yards  off,  and  my 
bullet  went  into  his  shoulder  as  he  passed  behind 
a  clump  of  young  spruce.  I  plunged  into  the 
ravine,  scrambled  out  of  it,  and  raced  after  him. 
In  a  minute  I  saw  him  standing  with  drooping 
head,  and  two  more  shots  finished  him.  He  also 
bore  fine  antlers.  It  was  a  great  piece  of  luck 
to  get  three  such  fine  bulls  at  the  cost  of  half  a 
day's  light  work;  but  we  had  fairly  earned  thern, 
having  worked  hard  for  ten  days,  through  rain, 
cold,  hunger,  and  fatigue,  to  no  purpose.     That 


An  Elk-Hunt  at  Two-Ocean  Pass  235 

evening  my  home-coming  to  camp,  with  three 
elk-tongues  and  a  brace  of  ruffed  grouse  hung  at 
my  belt,  was  most  happy. 

Next  day  it  snowed,  but  we  brought  a  pack- 
pony  to  where  the  three  great  bulls  lay,  and  took 
their  heads  to  camp ;  the  flesh  was  far  too  strong 
to  be  worth  taking,  for  it  was  just  the  height  of 
the  rut. 

This  was  the  end  of  my  hunt ;  and  a  day  later 
Hofer  and  I,  with  two  pack-ponies,  made  a  rapid 
push  for  the  Upper  Geyser  Basin.  We  travelled 
fast.  The  first  day  was  gray  and  overcast,  a  cold 
wind  blowing  strongly  in  our  faces.  Toward  eve- 
ning we  came  on  a  bull  elk  in  a  willow  thicket ;  he 
was  on  his  knees  in  a  hollow,  thrashing  and  beat- 
ing the  willows  with  his  antlers.  At  dusk  we 
halted  and  went  into  camp,  by  some  small  pools 
on  the  summit  of  the  pass  north  of  Red  Mountain. 
The  elk  were  calling  all  around  us.  We  pitched 
our  cozy  tent,  dragged  great  stumps  for  the  fire, 
cut  evergreen  boughs  for  our  beds,  watered  the 
horses,  tethered  them  to  improvised  picket-pins 
in  a  grassy  glade,  and  then  set  about  getting  sup- 
per ready.  The  wind  had  gone  down,  and  snow 
was  falling  thick  in  large,  soft  flakes;  we  were 
evidently  at  the  beginning  of  a  heavy  snowstorm. 
All  night  we  slept  soundly  in  our  snug  tent.  When 
we  arose  at  dawn  there  was  a  foot  and  a  half  of 
snow  on  the  ground,  and  the  flakes  were  falling  as 


236         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

fast  as  ever.  There  is  no  more  tedious  work  than 
striking  camp  in  bad  weather ;  and  it  was  over  two 
hours  from  the  time  we  rose  to  the  time  we  started. 
It  is  sheer  misery  to  untangle  picket-lines  and  to 
pack  animals  when  the  ropes  are  frozen;  and  by 
the  time  we  had  loaded  the  two  shivering,  wincing 
pack-ponies,  and  had  bridled  and  saddled  our  own 
riding-animals,  our  hands  and  feet  were  numb  and 
stiff  with  cold,  though  we  were  really  hampered 
by  our  warm  clothing.  My  horse  was  a  wild,  ner- 
vous roan,  and  as  I  swung  carelessly  into  the  sad- 
dle, he  suddenly  began  to  buck  before  I  got  my 
right  leg  over,  and  threw  me  off.  My  thumb  was 
put  out  of  joint.  I  pulled  it  in  again,  and  speedily 
caught  my  horse  in  the  dead  timber.  Then  I 
treated  him  as  what  the  cowboys  call  a  ''mean 
horse,"  and  mounted  him  carefully,  so  as  not  to 
let  him  either  buck  or  go  over  backward.  How- 
ever, his  preliminary  success  had  inspirited  him, 
and  a  dozen  times  that  day  he  began  to  buck, 
usually  choosing  a  down  grade,  where  the  snow 
was  deep,  and  there  was  much  fallen  timber. 

All  day  long  we  pushed  steadily  through  the 
cold,  blinding  snowstorm.  Neither  squirrels  nor 
rabbits  were  abroad;  and  a  few  Clarke's  crows, 
whisky-jacks,  and  chickadees  were  the  only  living 
things  we  saw.  At  nightfall,  chilled  through,  we 
reached  the  Upper  Geyser  Basin.  Here  I  met  a 
party  of  railroad  surveyors  and  engineers,  coming 


An  Elk-Hunt  at  Two-Ocean  Pass  237 

in  from  their  summer's  field-work.  One  of  them 
lent  me  a  saddle-horse  and  a  pack-pony,  and  we 
went  on  together,  breaking  our  way  through  the 
snow-choked  roads  to  the  Mammoth  Hot  Springs, 
while  Hofer  took  my  own  horses  back  to  Ferguson. 
I  have  described  this  hunt  at  length  because, 
though  I  enjoyed  it  particularly  on  accoimt  of  the 
comfort  in  which  we  travelled  and  the  beauty 
of  the  land,  yet,  in  point  of  success  in  finding 
and  killing  game,  in  value  of  trophies  procured, 
and  in  its  alternations  of  good  and  bad  luck, 
it  may  fairly  stand  as  the  type  of  a  dozen  such 
hunts  I  have  made.  Twice  I  have  been  much 
more  successful;  the  difference  being  due  to 
sheer  luck,  as  I  hunted  equally  hard  in  all  three 
instances.  Thus  on  this  trip  I  killed  and  saw 
nothing  but  elk;  yet  the  other  members  of  the 
party  either  saw,  or  saw  fresh  signs  of,  not  only 
blacktail  deer,  but  sheep,  bear,  bison,  moose, 
cougar,  and  wolf.  Now  in  1889  I  hunted  over 
almost  precisely  similar  country,  only  farther  to 
the  northwest,  on  the  boundary  between  Idaho 
and  Montana,  and,  with  the  exception  of  sheep, 
I  stumbled  on  all  the  animals  mentioned,  and 
white-goat  in  addition,  so  that  my  bag  of  twelve 
head  actually  included  eight  species — much  the 
best  bag  I  ever  made,  and  the  only  one  that  could 
really  be  called  out  of  the  common.  In  1884,  on  a 
trip  to  the  Bighorn  Mountains,  I  killed  three  bear, 


238         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

six  elk,  and  six  deer.  In  laying  in  the  winter  stock 
of  meat  for  my  ranch  I  often  far  excelled  these 
figures  as  far  as  mere  numbers  went ;  but  on  no 
other  regular  hunting  trip,  where  the  quality  and 
not  the  quantity  of  the  game  was  the  prime  con- 
sideration, have  I  ever  equalled  them;  and  on 
several  where  I  worked  hardest  I  hardly  averaged 
a  head  a  week.  The  occasional  days  or  weeks  of 
phenomenal  luck  are  more  than  earned  by  the 
many  others  where  no  luck  whatever  follows  the 
very  hardest  work.  Yet,  if  a  man  hunts  with 
steady  resolution,  he  is  apt  to  strike  enough  lucky 
days  amply  to  repay  him. 

On  this  Shoshone  trip  I  fired  fifty-eight  shots. 
In  preference  to  using  the  knife  I  generally  break 
the  neck  of  an  elk  which  is  still  struggling ;  and  I 
fire  at  one  as  long  as  it  can  stand,  preferring  to 
waste  a  few  extra  bullets,  rather  than  see  an  occa- 
sional head  of  game  escape.  In  consequence  of 
these  two  traits  the  nine  elk  I  got  (two  running  at 
sixty  and  eighty  yards,  the  others  standing,  at 
from  thirty  to  a  hundred)  cost  me  twenty-three 
bullets;  and  I  missed  three  shots — all  three,  it  is 
but  fair  to  say,  difficult  ones.  I  also  cut  off  the 
heads  of  seventeen  grouse,  with  twenty-two  shots ; 
and  killed  two  ducks  with  ten  shots — fifty-eight  in 
all.  On  the  Bighorn  trip  I  used  a  hundred  and 
two  cartridges.     On  no  other  trip  did  I  use  fifty. 

To  me,  still-hunting  elk  in  the  mountains,  when 


An  Elk-Hunt  at  Two-Ocean  Pass  239 

they  are  calling,  is  one  of  the  most  attractive  of 
sports,  not  only  because  of  the  size  and  stately 
beauty  of  the  quarry  and  the  grand  nature  of  the 
trophy,  but  because  of  the  magnificence  of  the 
scenery,  and  the  stirring,  manly,  exciting  nature 
of  the  chase  itself.  It  yields  more  vigorous  enjoy- 
ment than  does  lurking  stealthily  through  the 
grand  but  gloomy  monotony  of  the  marshy  wood- 
land where  dwells  the  moose.  The  climbing 
among  the  steep  forest-clad  and  glade-strewn 
motmtains  is  just  difficult  enough  thoroughly  to 
test  soundness  in  wind  and  limb,  while  without 
the  heart-breaking  fatigue  of  white-goat  hunting. 
The  actual  grapple  with  an  angry  grisly  is  of  course 
far  more  full  of  strong,  eager  pleasure;  but  bear- 
hunting  is  the  most  uncertain,  and  usually  the 
least  productive,  of  sports. 

As  regards  strenuous,  vigorous  work,  and  pleas- 
urable excitement,  the  chase  of  the  bighorn  alone 
stands  higher.  But  the  bighorn,  grand  beast  of 
the  chase  though  he  be,  is  surpassed  in  size,  both 
of  body  and  of  horns,  by  certain  of  the  giant  sheep 
of  Central  Asia;  whereas  the  wapiti  is  not  only 
the  most  stately  and  beautiful  of  American  game 
— far  more  so  than  the  bison  and  moose,  his  only 
rivals  in  size — but  is  also  the  noblest  of  the  stag 
kind  throughout  the  world.  Whoever  kills  him 
has  killed  the  chief  of  his  race ;  for  he  stands  far 
above  his  brethren  of  Asia  and  Europe. 


CHAPTER  XI 
THE  moose;  the  beast  of  the  woodland 

THE  raoose  is  the  giant  of  all  deer ;  and  many 
hunters  esteem  it  the  noblest  of  American 
game.  Beyond  question,  there  are  few 
trophies  more  prized  than  the  huge  shovel  horns 
of  this  strange  dweller  in  the  cold  northland  forests. 

I  shot  my  first  moose  '\fter  making  several  fruit- 
less hunting  trips  with  this  special  game  in  view. 
The  season  I  finally  succeeded,  it  was  only  after 
having  hunted  two  or  three  weeks  in  vain  among 
the  Bitter  Root  Mountains  and  the  ranges  lying 
southeast  of  them. 

I  began  about  the  first  of  September  by  making 
a  trial  with  my  old  hunting  friend,  Willis.  We 
speedily  found  a  country  where  there  were  moose, 
but  of  the  animals  themselves  we  never  caught  a 
glimpse.  We  tried  to  kill  them  by  hunting  in  the 
same  manner  that  we  hunted  elk;  that  is,  by 
choosing  a  place  where  there  was  sign,  and  going 
carefully  through  it  against  or  across  the  wind. 
However,  this  plan  failed;  though  at  that  very 
time  we  succeeded  in  killing  elk  in  this  way,  de- 
voting one  or  two  days  to  their  pursuit.      There 

240 


The  Moose  241 

were  both  elk  and  moose  in  the  country,  but  they 
were  usually  found  in  different  kinds  of  ground, 
though  often  close  alongside  one  another.  The 
former  went  in  herds,  the  cows,  calves,  and  year- 
lings by  themselves,  and  they  roamed  through  the 
higher  and  more  open  forests,  well  up  towards 
timber  line.  The  moose,  on  the  contrary,  were 
found  singly  or  in  small  parties,  composed,  at  the 
outside,  of  a  bull,  a  cow,  and  her  young  of  two 
years ;  for  the  moose  is  practically  monogamous, 
in  strong  contrast  to  the  highly  polygamous  wapiti 
and  caribou. 

The  moose  did  not  seem  to  care  much  whether 
they  lived  among  the  summits  of  the  mountains 
or  not,  so  long  as  they  got  the  right  kind  of  coimtry ; 
for  they  were  much  more  local  in  their  distribution, 
and  at  this  season  less  given  to  wandering  than 
their  kin  with  round  horns.  What  they  wished 
was  a  cool,  swampy  region  of  very  dense  growth; 
in  the  main  chains  of  the  northern  Rockies  even 
the  valleys  are  high  enough  to  be  cold.  Of  course 
many  of  the  moose  lived  on  the  wooded  summits 
of  the  lower  ranges ;  and  most  of  them  came  down 
lower  in  winter  than  in  summer,  following  about 
a  fortnight  after  the  elk ;  but  if  in  a  large  tract  of 
woods  the  cover  was  dense  and  the  ground  marshy, 
though  it  was  in  a  valley  no  higher  than  the  herds 
of  the  ranchmen  grazed,  or  perchance  even  in 
the  immediate  neighborhood  of  a  small  frontier 

VOL.  I. — 16. 


242  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

hamlet,  then  it  might  be  chosen  by  some  old  bull 
who  wished  to  lie  in  seclusion  till  his  horns  were 
grown,  or  by  some  cow  with  a  calf  to  raise.  Before 
settlers  came  to  this  high  mountain  region  of  west- 
em  Montana,  a  moose  would  often  thus  live  in  an 
isolated  marshy  tract  surrounded  by  open  country. 
They  grazed  throughout  the  summer  on  marsh 
plants,  notably  lily  stems,  and  nibbled  at  the  tops 
of  the  very  tall  natural  hay  of  the  meadows.  The 
legs  of  the  beast  are  too  long  and  the  neck  too 
short  to  allow  it  to  graze  habitually  on  short 
grass ;  yet  in  the  early  spring,  when  greedy  for  the 
tender  blades  of  young,  green  marsh  grass,  the 
moose  will  often  shuffle  down  on  its  knees  to  get 
at  them,  and  it  will  occasionally  perform  the  same 
feat  to  get  a  mouthful  or  two  of  snow  in  winter. 

The  moose  which  lived  in  isolated,  exposed  lo- 
calities were  speedily  killed  or  driven  away  after 
the  incoming  of  settlers ;  and  at  the  time  that  we 
hunted  we  found  no  sign  of  them  until  we  reached 
the  region  of  continuous  forest.  Here,  in  a  fort- 
night's hunting,  we  found  as  much  sign  as  we 
wished,  and  plenty  of  it  fresh;  but  the  animals 
themselves  we  not  only  never  saw,  but  we  never 
so  much  as  heard.  Often  after  hours  of  careful 
still-hunting  or  cautious  tracking,  we  found  the 
footprints  deep  in  the  soft  earth,  showing  where 
our  quarry  had  winded  or  heard  us,  and  had  noise- 
lessly slipped  away  from  the  danger.     It  is  aston- 


The  Moose  243 

ishing  how  quietly  a  moose  can  steal  through  the 
woods  if  it  wishes :  and  it  has  what  is  to  the  hun- 
ter a  very  provoking  habit  of  making  a  half  or 
three  quarters  circle  before  lying  down,  and  then 
crouching  with  its  head  so  turned  that  it  can  surely 
perceive  any  pursuer  who  may  follow  its  trail.  We 
tried  every  method  to  outwit  the  beasts.  We  at- 
tempted to  track  them;  we  beat  through  likely 
spots;  sometimes  we  merely  ''sat  on  a  log"  and 
awaited  events,  by  a  drinking  hole,  meadow,  mud 
wallow,  or  other  such  place  (a  course  of  procedure 
which  often  works  well  in  still-hunting) ;  but  all 
in  vain. 

Our  main  difficulty  lay  in  the  character  of  the 
woods  which  the  moose  haunted.  They  were 
choked  and  tangled  to  the  last  degree,  consisting 
of  a  mass  of  thick-growing  conifers,  with  dead 
timber  strewn  in  every  direction,  and  young 
growth  filling  the  spaces  between  the  trunks.  We 
could  not  see  twenty  yards  ahead  of  us,  and  it  was 
almost  impossible  to  walk  without  making  a 
noise.  Elk  were  occasionally  found  in  these  same 
places;  but  usually  they  frequented  more  open 
timber,  where  the  hunting  was  beyond  comparison 
easier.  Perhaps  more  experienced  hunters  would 
have  killed  their  game ;  though  in  such  cover  the 
best  tracker  and  still-hunter  alive  cannot  always 
reckon  on  success  with  really  wary  animals.  But 
be  this  as  it  may,  we,  at  any  rate,  were  completely 


244  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

baffled,  and  I  began  to  think  that  this  moose-hunt, 
like  all  my  former  ones,  was  doomed  to  end  in 
failure. 

However,  a  few  days  later  I  met  a  crabbed  old 
trapper  named  Hank  Griffin,  who  was  going  after 
beaver  in  the  mountains,  and  who  told  me  that  if 
I  would  come  with  him  he  would  show  me  moose. 
I  jumped  at  the  chance,  and  he  proved  as  good  as 
his  word;  though  for  the  first  two  trials  my  ill 
luck  did  not  change. 

At  the  time  that  it  finally  did  change  we  had  at 
last  reached  a  place  where  the  moose  were  on  fa- 
vorable ground.  A  high,  marshy  valley  stretched 
for  several  miles  between  two  rows  of  stony  moun- 
tains, clad  with  a  forest  of  rather  small  fir-trees. 
This  valley  was  covered  with  reeds,  alders,  and 
rank  grass,  and  studded  with  little  willow-bor- 
dered ponds  and  island-like  clumps  of  spruce  and 
graceful  tamaracks. 

Having  surveyed  the  ground  and  found  moose 
sign  the  preceding  afternoon,  we  were  up  betimes 
in  the  cool  morning  to  begin  our  hunt.  Before 
sunrise  we  were  posted  on  a  rocky  spur  of  the  foot- 
hills, behind  a  mask  of  evergreens ;  ourselves  un- 
seen, we  overlooked  all  the  valley,  and  we  knew  we 
could  see  any  animal  which  might  be  either  feed- 
ing away  from  cover  or  on  its  journey  homeward 
from  its  feeding-ground  to  its  day-bed. 

As  it  grew  lighter  we  scanned  the  valley  with 


The  Moose  245 

increasing  care  and  eagerness.  The  sun  rose  be- 
hind us ;  and  almost  as  soon  as  it  was  up  we  made 
out  some  large  beast  moving  among  the  dwarf 
willows  beside  a  little  lake  half  a  mile  in  our  front. 
In  a  few  minutes  the  thing  walked  out  where  the 
bushes  were  thinner,  and  we  saw  that  it  was  a 
young  bull  moose  browsing  on  the  willow  tops. 
He  had  evidently  nearly  finished  his  breakfast, 
and  he  stood  idly  for  some  moments,  now  and 
then  lazily  cropping  a  mouthful  of  twig  tips.  Then 
he  walked  off  with  great  strides  in  a  straight  line 
across  the  marsh,  splashing  among  the  wet  water- 
plants,  and  ploughing  through  boggy  spaces  with 
the  indifference  begotten  of  vast  strength  and  legs 
longer  than  those  of  any  other  animal  on  this  con- 
tinent. At  times  he  entered  beds  of  reeds  which 
hid  him  from  view,  though  their  surging  and  bend- 
ing showed  the  wake  of  his  passage;  at  other 
times  he  walked  through  meadows  of  tall  grass, 
the  withered  yellow  stalks  rising  to  his  flanks, 
while  his  body  loomed  above  them,  glistening 
black  and  wet  in  the  level  sunbeams.  Once  he 
stopped  for  a  few  moments  on  a  rise  of  dry  ground, 
seemingly  to  enjoy  the  heat  of  the  young  sun ;  he 
stood  motionless,  save  that  his  ears  were  continu- 
ally pricked,  and  his  head  sometimes  slightly 
turned,  showing  that  even  in  this  remote  land  he 
was  on  the  alert.  Once,  with  a  somewhat  awk- 
ward motion,  he  reached  his  hind  leg  forward 


246         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

to  scratch  his  neck.  Then  he  walked  forward 
again  into  the  marsh ;  where  the  water  was  quite 
deep,  he  broke  into  the  long,  stretching,  springy 
trot,  which  forms  the  characteristic  gait  of  his 
kind,  churning  the  marsh  water  into  foam.  He 
held  his  head  straight  forwards,  the  antlers  resting 
on  his  shoulders. 

After  a  while  he  reached  a  spruce  island,  through 
which  he  walked  to  and  fro ;  but  evidently  could 
find  therein  no  resting-place  quite  to  his  mind,  for 
he  soon  left  and  went  on  to  another.  Here  after  a 
little  wandering  he  chose  a  point  where  there  was 
some  thick  young  growth,  which  hid  him  from 
view  when  he  lay  down,  though  not  when  he  stood. 
After  some  turning  he  settled  himself  in  his  bed 
just  as  a  steer  would. 

He  could  not  have  chosen  a  spot  better  suited 
for  us.  He  was  nearly  at  the  edge  of  the  morass, 
the  open  space  between  the  spruce  clump  where 
he  was  lying  and  the  rocky  foothills  being  com- 
paratively dry  and  not  much  over  a  couple  of  hun- 
dred yards  broad ;  while  some  sixty  yards  from  it, 
and  between  it  and  the  hills,  was  a  httle  hum- 
mock, tufted  with  firs,  so  as  to  afford  us  just  the 
cover  we  needed.  Keeping  back  from  the  edge  of 
the  morass  we  were  able  to  walk  upright  through 
the  forest,  until  we  got  to  the  point  where  he  was 
lying  in  a  line  with  this  little  hummock.  We  then 
dropped  on  our  hands  and  knees,  and  crept  over 


The  Moose  247 

the  soft,  wet  sward,  where  there  w^as  nothing  to 
make  a  noise.  Wherever  the  ground  rose  at  all  we 
crawled  flat  on  our  bellies.  The  air  was  still,  for  it 
was  a  very  calm  morning. 

At  last  we  reached  the  hummock,  and  I  got  into 
position  for  a  shot,  taking  a  final  look  at  my  faith- 
ful 45-90  Winchester  to  see  that  all  was  in  order. 
Peering  cautiously  through  the  shielding  ever- 
greens, I  at  first  could  not  make  out  where  the 
moose  was  lying,  until  my  eye  was  caught  by  the 
motion  of  his  big  ears,  as  he  occasionally  flapped 
them  lazily  forward.  Even  then  I  could  not  see 
his  outline ;  but  I  knew  where  he  was,  and  having 
pushed  my  rifle  forward  on  the  moss,  I  snapped  a 
dry  twig  to  make  him  rise.  My  veins  were  thrill- 
ing, and  my  heart  beat  with  that  eager,  fierce  ex- 
citement known  only  to  the  hunter  of  big  game, 
and  forming  one  of  the  keenest  and  strongest  of  the 
many  pleasures  which  with  him  go  to  make  up 
"the  wild  joy  of  living." 

As  the  sound  of  the  snapping  twig  smote  his 
ears  the  moose  rose  nimbly  to  his  feet,  with  a 
lightness  on  which  one  would  not  have  reckoned 
in  a  beast  so  heavy  of  body.  He  stood  broadside 
to  me  for  a  moment,  his  ungainly  head  slightly 
turned,  while  his  ears  twitched  and  his  nostrils 
snuffed  the  air.  Drawing  a  fine  bead  against  his 
black  hide,  behind  his  shoulder  and  two  thirds 
of  his  body's   depth  below  his   shaggy  withers. 


248  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

I  pressed  the  trigger.  He  neither  flinched  nor 
reeled,  but  started  with  his  regular  ground-cover- 
ing trot  through  the  spruces ;  yet  I  knew  he  was 
mine,  for  the  light  blood  sprang  from  both  of  his 
nostrils,  and  he  fell  dying  on  his  side  before  he  had 
gone  thirty  rods. 

Later  in  the  fall  I  was  again  hunting  among  the 
lofty  ranges  which  continue  towards  the  south- 
east the  chain  of  the  Bitter  Root,  between  Idaho 
and  Montana.  There  were  but  two  of  us,  and  we 
were  travelling  very  light,  each  having  but  one 
pack-pony  and  the  saddle  animal  he  bestrode.  We 
were  high  among  the  mountains,  and  followed 
no  regular  trail.  Hence  our  course  was  often  one 
of  extreme  difficulty.  Occasionally,  we  took  our 
animals  through  the  forest  near  timber  line,  where 
the  slopes  were  not  too  steep ;  again  we  threaded 
our  way  through  a  line  of  glades,  or  skirted  the 
foothills,  in  an  open,  park  country;  and  now  and 
then  we  had  to  cross  stretches  of  tangled  mountain 
forest,  making  but  a  few  miles  a  day,  at  the  cost 
of  incredible  toil,  and  accomplishing  even  this 
solely  by  virtue  of  the  wonderful  docility  and  sure- 
footedness  of  the  ponies,  and  of  my  companion's 
skill  with  the  axe  and  thorough  knowledge  of 
woodcraft. 

Late  one  cold  afternoon  we  came  out  in  a  high 
alpine  valley  in  which  there  was  no  sign  of  any 
man's  having  ever  been  before  us.     Down  its  mid- 


The  Moose  249 

die  ran  a  clear  brook.  On  each  side  was  a  belt  of 
thick  spruce  forest,  covering  the  lower  flanks  of 
the  mountains.  The  trees  came  down  in  points 
and  isolated  clumps  to  the  brook,  the  banks  of 
which  were  thus  bordered  with  open  glades,  ren- 
dering the  travelling  easy  and  rapid. 

Soon  after  starting  up  this  valley  we  entered  a 
beaver-meadow  of  considerable  size.  It  was  cov- 
ered with  lush,  rank  grass,  and  the  stream  wound 
through  it  rather  sluggishly  in  long  curves,  which 
were  fringed  by  a  thick  growth  of  dwarfed  willows. 
In  one  or  two  places  it  broadened  into  small  ponds, 
bearing  a  few  lily-pads.  This  meadow  had  been 
all  tramped  up  by  moose.  Trails  led  hither  and 
thither  through  the  grass,  the  willow  twigs  were 
cropped  off,  and  the  muddy  banks  of  the  little 
black  ponds  were  indented  by  hoof -marks.  Evi- 
dently most  of  the  lilies  had  been  plucked.  The 
footprints  were  unmistakable;  a  moose's  foot  is 
longer  and  slimmer  than  a  caribou's,  while  on  the 
other  hand  it  is  much  larger  than  an  elk's,  and  a 
longer  oval  in  shape. 

Most  of  the  sign  was  old,  this  high  alpine  mea- 
dow, surrounded  by  snow  mountains,  having 
clearly  been  a  favorite  resort  for  moose  in  the 
summer;  but  some  enormous,  fresh  tracks  told 
that  one  or  more  old  bulls  were  still  frequenting 
the  place. 

The  light  was  already  fading,  and,  of  course, 


250         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

we  did  not  wish  to  camp  where  we  were,  because 
we  would  then  certainly  scare  the  moose.  Ac- 
cordingly we  pushed  up  the  valley  for  another 
mile,  through  an  open  forest,  the  ground  being 
quite  free  from  underbrush  and  dead  timber,  and 
covered  with  a  carpet  of  thick  moss,  in  which  the 
feet  sank  noiselessly.  Then  we  came  to  another 
beaver-meadow,  which  offered  fine  feed  for  the 
ponies.  On  its  edge  we  hastily  pitched  camp,  just 
at  dusk.  We  tossed  down  the  packs  in  a  dry 
grove,  close  to  the  brook,  and  turned  the  tired 
ponies  loose  in  the  meadow,  hobbling  the  little 
mare  that  carried  the  bell.  The  ground  was 
smooth.  We  threw  a  cross-pole  from  one  to  the 
other  of  two  young  spruces,  which  happened  to 
stand  handily,  and  from  it  stretched  and  pegged 
out  a  piece  of  canvas,  which  we  were  using  as  a 
shelter  tent.  Beneath  this  we  spread  our  bedding, 
laying  under  it  the  canvas  sheets  in  which  it  had 
been  wrapped.  There  was  still  bread  left  over 
from  yesterday's  baking,  and  in  a  few  moments 
the  kettle  was  boiling  and  the  frying-pan  sizzHng, 
while  one  of  us  skinned  and  cut  into  suitable  pieces 
two  grouse  we  had  knocked  over  on  our  march. 
For  fear  of  frightening  the  moose  we  built  but  a 
small  fire,  and  went  to  bed  soon  after  supper, 
being  both  tired  and  cold.  Fortunately,  what  little 
breeze  there  was  blew  up  the  valley. 

At  dawn  I  was  awake,  and  crawled  out  of  my 


The  Moose  251 

buffalo  bag,  shivering  and  yawning.  My  com- 
panion still  slumbered  heavily.  White  frost  cov- 
ered whatever  had  been  left  outside.  The  cold 
was  sharp,  and  I  hurriedly  slipped  a  pair  of  stout 
moccasins  on  my  feet,  drew  on  my  gloves  and  cap, 
and  started  through  the  ghostly  woods  for  the 
meadow  where  we  had  seen  the  moose  sign.  The 
tufts  of  grass  were  stiff  with  frost;  black  ice 
skimmed  the  edges  and  quiet  places  of  the  little 
brook. 

I  walked  slowly,  it  being  difficult  not  to  make  a 
noise  by  cracking  sticks  or  brushing  against  trees 
in  the  gloom;  but  the  forest  was  so  open  that  it 
favored  me.  When  I  reached  the  edge  of  the 
beaver-meadow  it  was  light  enough  to  shoot, 
though  the  front  sight  still  glimmered  indistinctly. 
Streaks  of  cold  red  showed  that  the  sun  would 
soon  rise. 

Before  leaving  the  shelter  of  the  last  spruces  I 
halted  to  listen ;  and  almost  immediately  heard  a 
curious  splashing  sound  from  the  middle  of  the 
meadow,  where  the  brook  broadened  into  small 
willow-bordered  pools.  I  knew  at  once  that  a 
moose  was  in  one  of  these  pools,  wading  about  and 
pulling  up  the  water-lilies  by  seizing  their  slippery 
stems  in  his  lips,  plunging  his  head  deep  under 
water  to  do  so.  The  moose  love  to  feed  in  this 
way  in  the  hot  months,  when  they  spend  all  the 
time  they  can  in  the  water,  feeding  or  lying  down ; 


252         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

nor  do  they  altogether  abandon  the  habit  even 
when  the  weather  is  so  cold  that  icicles  form  in 
their  shaggy  coats. 

Crouching,  I  stole  noiselessly  along  the  edge  of 
the  willow  thicket.  The  stream  twisted  through 
it  from  side  to  side  in  zigzags,  so  that  every  few 
rods  I  got  a  glimpse  down  a  lane  of  black  water. 
In  a  minute  I  heard  a  slight  splashing  near  me; 
and  on  passing  the  next  point  of  bushes  I  saw  the 
shadowy  outlines  of  the  moose's  hindquarters, 
standing  in  a  bend  of  the  water.  In  a  moment 
he  walked  onwards,  disappearing.  I  ran  forward 
a  couple  of  rods,  and  then  turned  in  among  the 
willows,  to  reach  the  brook  where  it  again  bent 
back  towards  me.  The  splashing  in  the  water, 
and  the  rustling  of  the  moose's  body  against  the 
frozen  twigs,  drowned  the  little  noise  made  by  my 
moccasined  feet. 

I  strode  out  on  the  bank  at  the  lower  end  of  a 
long  narrow  pool  of  water,  dark  and  half  frozen. 
In  this  pool,  half  way  down  and  facing  me,  but  a 
score  of  yards  off,  stood  the  mighty  marsh  beast, 
strange  and  uncouth  in  look  as  some  monster  sur- 
viving over  from  the  Pliocene.  His  vast  bulk 
loomed  black  and  vague  in  the  dim  gray  dawn; 
his  huge  antlers  stood  out  sharply;  columns  of 
steam  rose  from  his  nostrils.  For  several  seconds 
he  fronted  me  motionless ;  then  he  began  to  turn, 
slowly,  and  as  if  he  had  a  stiff  neck.    When  quarter 


The  Moose  253 

way  round  I  fired  into  his  shoulder;  whereat  he 
reared  and  bounded  on  the  bank  with  a  great  leap, 
vanishing  in  the  willows.  Through  these  I  heard 
him  crash  like  a  whirlwind  for  a  dozen  rods ;  then 
down  he  fell,  and  when  I  reached  the  spot  he  had 
ceased  to  struggle.  The  ball  had  gone  through  his 
heart. 

When  a  moose  is  thus  surprised  at  close  quar- 
ters, it  will  often  stand  at  gaze  for  a  moment  or  two, 
and  then  turn  stiffly  around  until  headed  in  the 
right  direction ;  once  thus  headed  aright  it  starts 
off  with  extraordinary  speed. 

The  flesh  of  the  moose  is  very  good;  though 
some  deem  it  coarse.  Old  hunters,  who  always 
like  rich,  greasy  food,  rank  a  moose's  nose  with  a 
beaver's  tail  as  the  chief  of  backwood  delicacies; 
personally,  I  never  liked  either.  The  hide  of  the 
moose,  like  the  hide  of  the  elk,  is  of  very  poor 
quality,  much  inferior  to  ordinary  buckskin; 
caribou  hide  is  the  best  of  all,  especially  when 
used  as  webbing  for  snow-shoes. 

The  moose  is  very  fond  of  frequenting  swampy 
woods  throughout  the  stimmer,  and  indeed  late 
into  the  fall.  These  swampy  woods  are  not  neces- 
sarily in  the  lower  valleys,  some  being  found  very 
high  among  the  mountains.  By  preference,  it 
haunts  those  containing  lakes,  where  it  can  find 
the  long  lily-roots  of  which  it  is  so  fond,  and  where 
it  can  escape  the  torment  of  the  mosquitoes  and 


254  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

deer-flies  by  lying  completely  submerged  save  for 
its  nostrils.  It  is  a  bold  and  good  swimmer, 
readily  crossing  lakes  of  large  size;  but  it  is  of 
course  easily  slain  if  discovered  by  canoe-men 
while  in  the  water.  It  travels  well  through  bogs, 
but  not  as  well  as  the  caribou ;  and  it  will  not  ven- 
ture on  ice  at  all  if  it  can  possibly  avoid  it. 

After  the  rut  begins  the  animals  roam  every- 
where through  the  woods;  and  where  there  are 
hardwood  forests  the  winter-yard  is  usually  made 
among  them,  on  high  ground,  away  from  the, 
swamps.  In  the  mountains  the  deep  snows  drive 
the  moose,  like  all  other  game,  down  to  the  lower 
valleys,  in  hard  winters.  In  the  summer  it  occa- 
sionally climbs  to  the  very  summits  of  the  wooded 
ranges,  to  escape  the  flies;  and  it  is  said  that  in 
certain  places  where  wolves  are  plenty  the  cows 
retire  to  the  tops  of  the  mountains  to  calve.  More 
often,  however,  they  select  some  patch  of  very 
dense  cover,  in  a  swamp  or  by  a  lake,  for  this  pur- 
pose. Their  ways  of  life  of  course  vary  with  the 
nature  of  the  country  they  frequent.  In  the  tow^er- 
ing  chains  of  the  Rockies,  clad  in  som^bre  and  un- 
broken evergreen  forests,  their  habits,  in  regard 
to  winter  and  summer  homes,  and  choice  of  places 
of  seclusion  for  cows  with  young  calves  and  bulls 
growing  their  antlers,  differ  from  those  of  their 
kind  which  haunt  the  comparatively  low,  hilly, 
lake-studded  country  of  Maine  and  Nova  Scotia, 


The  Moose  255 

where  the  forests  are  of  birch,  beech,  and  maple, 
mixed  with  the  pine,  spruce,  and  hemlock. 

The  moose,  being  usually  monogamous,  is  never 
found  in  great  herds  like  the  wapiti  and  caribou. 
Occasionally  a  troop  of  fifteen  or  twenty  individ- 
uals may  be  seen,  but  this  is  rare ;  more  often  it 
is  found  singly,  in  pairs,  or  in  family  parties,  com- 
posed of  a  bull,  a  cow,  and  two  or  more  calves  and 
yearlings.  In  yarding,  two  or  more  such  families 
may  unite  to  spend  the  winter  together  in  an  un- 
usually attractive  locality;  and  during  the  rut 
many  bulls  are  sometimes  found  together,  perhaps 
following  the  trail  of  a  cow  in  single  file. 

In  the  fall,  winter,  and  early  spring,  and  in  cer- 
tain places  during  summer,  the  moose  feeds  prin- 
cipally by  browsing,  though  always  willing  to 
vary  its  diet  by  mosses,  lichens,  fungi,  and  ferns. 
In  the  eastern  forests,  with  their  abundance  of 
hardwood,  the  birch,  maple,  and  moose-wood 
form  its  favorite  food.  In  the  Rocky  Mountains, 
where  the  forests  are  almost  purely  evergreen,  it 
feeds  on  such  willows,  alders,  and  aspens  as  it  can 
fimd,  and  also,  when  pressed  by  necessity,  on  bal- 
sam, fir,  spruce,  and  very  young  pine.  It  peels 
the  bark  between  its  hard  palate  and  sharp  lower 
teeth,  to  a  height  of  seven  or  eight  feet;  these 
"peelings"  form  conspicuous  moose  signs.  It 
crops  the  juicy,  budding  twigs  and  stem  tops  to 
the  same  height;    and  if  the  tree  is  too  tall  it 


256  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

"rides"  it,  that  is,  straddles  the  slender  trunk 
with  its  fore  legs,  pushing  it  over  and  walking  up 
it  until  the  desired  branches  are  within  reach.  No 
beast  is  more  destructive  to  the  young  growth  of 
a  forest  than  the  moose.  Where  much  persecuted, 
it  feeds  in  the  late  evening,  early  morning,  and  by 
moonlight.  Where  rarely  disturbed,  it  passes  the 
day  much  as  cattle  do,  alternately  resting  and 
feeding  for  two  or  three  hours  at  a  time. 

Young  moose,  when  caught,  are  easily  tamed, 
and  are  very  playful,  delighting  to  gallop  to  and 
fro,  kicking,  striking,  butting,  and  occasionally 
making  grotesque  faces.  As  they  grow  old  they 
are  apt  to  become  dangerous,  and  even  their  play 
takes  the  form  of  a  mock  fight.  Some  lumbermen 
I  knew  on  the  Aroostook,  in  Maine,  once  captured 
a  young  moose,  and  put  it  in  a  pen  of  logs.  A  few 
days  later  they  captured  another,  somewhat 
smaller,  and  put  it  in  the  same  pen,  thinking  the 
first  would  be  grateful  at  having  a  companion. 
But  if  it  was  it  dissembled  its  feelings,  for  it 
promptly  fell  on  the  unfortunate  newcomer  and 
killed  it  before  it  could  be  rescued. 

During  the  rut  the  bulls  seek  the  cows  far  and 
wide,  uttering  continually  throughout  the  night  a 
short,  loud  roar,  which  can  be  heard  at  a  distance 
of  four  or  five  miles ;  the  cows  now  and  then  re- 
spond with  low,  plaintive  bellows.  The  bulls  also 
thrash  the  tree-trunks  with  their  horns,  and  paw 


The  Moose  257 

big  holes  in  soft  ground;  and  when  two  rivals 
come  together  at  this  season  they  fight  with  the 
most  desperate  fury.  It  is  chiefly  in  these  battles 
with  one  another  that  the  huge  antlers  are  used; 
in  contending  with  other  foes  they  strike  terrible 
blows  with  their  fore  hoofs,  and  also  sometimes 
lash  out  behind  like  a  horse.  The  bear  occasion- 
ally makes  a  prey  of  the  moose ;  the  cougar  is  a 
more  dangerous  enemy  in  the  few  districts  where 
both  animals  are  found  at  all  plentifully ;  but  next 
to  man  its  most  dreaded  foe  is  the  big  timber  wolf, 
that  veritable  scourge  of  all  animals  of  the  deer 
kind.  Against  all  of  these  the  moose  defends  it- 
self valiantly ;  a  cow  with  a  calf  and  a  rutting  bull 
being  especially  dangerous  opponents.  In  deep 
snows  through  which  the  great  deer  floimders 
while  its  adversary  runs  lightly  on  the  crust,  a 
single  wolf  may  overcome  and  slaughter  a  big  bull 
moose;  but  with  a  fair  chance,  no  one  or  two 
wolves  would  be  a  match  for  it.  Desperate  com- 
bats take  place  before  a  small  pack  of  wolves  can 
master  the  shovel-homed  quarry,  unless  it  is  taken 
at  a  hopeless  disadvantage;  and  in  these  battles 
the  prowess  of  the  moose  is  shown  by  the  fact  that 
it  is  no  unusual  thing  for  it  to  kill  one  or  more  of 
the  ravenous  throng ;  generally,  by  a  terrific  blow 
of  the  fore  leg,  smashing  a  wolf's  skull  or  breaking 
its  back.  I  have  known  of  several  instances  of 
wolves  being  found  dead,  having  perished  in  this 

VOL.  I. — 17. 


258  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

manner.  Still  the  battle  usually  ends  the  other 
way,  the  wolves  being  careful  to  make  the  attack 
with  the  odds  in  their  favor;  and  even  a  small 
pack  of  the  ferocious  brutes  will  in  a  single  winter 
often  drive  the  moose  completely  out  of  a  given 
district.  Both  cougar  and  bear  generally  reckon 
on  taking  the  moose  unawares,  when  they  jump 
on  it.  In  one  case  that  came  to  my  knowledge  a 
black  bear  was  killed  by  a  cow  moose  whose  calf 
he  had  attacked. 

In  the  northeast  a  favorite  method  of  hunting 
the  moose  is  by  '' calling"  the  bulls  in  the  rutting 
season,  at  dawn  or  nightfall ;  the  caller  imitating 
their  cries  through  a  birch-bark  trumpet.  If  the 
animals  are  at  all  wary,  this  kind  of  sport  can 
only  be  carried  on  in  still  weather,  as  the  approach- 
ing bull  always  tries  to  get  the  wind  of  the  caller. 
It  is  also  sometimes  slain  by  fire-hunting,  from  a 
canoe,  as  the  deer  are  killed  in  the  Adirondacks. 
This,  however,  is  but  an  ignoble  sport ;  and  to  kill 
the  animal  while  it  is  swimming  in  a  lake  is  worse. 
However,  there  is  sometimes  a  spice  of  excitement 
even  in  these  unworthy  methods  of  the  chase ;  for 
a  truculent  moose  will  do  its  best,  with  hoofs  and 
horns,  to  upset  the  boat. 

The  true  way  to  kill  the  noble  beast,  however,  is 
by  fair  still-hunting.  There  is  no  grander  sport 
than  still-hunting  the  moose,  whether  in  the  vast 
pine  and  birch  forests  of  the  northeast,  or  among 


The  Moose  259 

the  stupendous  mountain  masses  of  the  Rockies. 
The  moose  has  wonderfully  keen  nose  and  ears, 
though  its  eyesight  is  not  remarkable.  Most  hunt- 
ers assert  that  he  is  the  wariest  of  all  game,  and 
the  most  difficult  to  kill.  I  have  never  been  quite 
satisfied  that  this  was  so ;  it  seems  to  me  that  the 
nature  of  the  ground  wherein  it  dwells  helps  it 
even  more  than  do  its  own  sharp  senses.  It  is  true 
that  I  made  many  trips  in  vain  before  killing  my 
first  moose ;  but  then  I  had  to  hunt  through  tan- 
gled timber,  where  I  could  hardly  move  a  step 
without  noise,  and  could  never  see  thirty  yards 
ahead.  If  moose  were  found  in  open  park-like 
forests,  like  those  where  I  first  killed  elk,  on  the 
Bighorn  Mountains,  or  among  brushy  coulies  and 
bare  hills,  like  the  Little  Missouri  Bad  Lands, 
where  I  first  killed  blacktail  deer,  I  doubt  whether 
they  would  prove  especially  difficult  animals  to 
bag.  My  own  experience  is  much  too  limited  to 
allow  me  to  speak  with  any  certainty  on  the 
point;  but  it  is  borne  out  by  what  more  skilled 
hunters  have  told  me.  In  the  Big  Hole  Basin,  in 
southwest  Montana,  moose  were  quite  plentiful  in 
the  late  'seventies.  Two  or  three  of  the  old  set- 
tlers, whom  I  know  as  veteran  hunters  and  trust- 
worthy men,  have  told  me  that  in  those  times  the 
moose  were  often  found  in  very  accessible  locali- 
ties ;  and  that  when  such  was  the  case  they  were 
quite  as  easily  killed  as  elk.      In  fact,  when  run 


26o  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

across  by  accident  they  frequently  showed  a  certain 
clumsy  slowness  of  apprehension  which  amounted 
to  downright  stupidity.  One  of  the  most  suc- 
cessful moose-hunters  I  know  is  Colonel  Cecil 
Clay,  of  the  Department  of  Law,  in  Washington ; 
he  it  was  who  killed  the  moose  composing  the  fine 
group  mounted  by  Mr.  Hornaday,  in  the  National 
Museum.  Colonel  Clay  lost  his  right  arm  in  the 
Civil  War;  but  is  an  expert  rifle  shot  nevertheless, 
using  a  short,  light  forty-four  calibre  old-style 
Winchester  carbine.  With  this  weapon  he  has 
killed  over  a  score  of  moose,  by  fair  still-hunting ; 
and  he  tells  me  that  on  similar  ground  he  con- 
siders it  if  anything  rather  less  easy  to  still-hunt 
and  kill  a  whitetail  deer  than  it  is  to  kill  a  moose. 

My  friend  Colonel  James  Jones  killed  two  moose 
in  a  day  in  northwestern  Wyoming,  not  far  from 
the  Tetons ;  he  was  alone  when  he  shot  them,  and 
did  not  find  them  especially  wary.  Ordinarily, 
moose  are  shot  at  fairly  close  range ;  but  another 
friend  of  mine,  Mr.  E.  P.  Rogers,  once  dropped 
one  with  a  single  bullet  at  a  distance  of  nearly 
three  hundred  yards.  This  happened  by  Bridger's 
Lake,  near  Two-Ocean  Pass. 

The  moose  has  a  fast  walk,  and  its  ordinary  gait 
when  going  at  any  speed  is  a  slashing  trot.  Its  long 
legs  give  it  a  wonderful  stride,  enabling  it  to  clear 
down  timber  and  high  obstacles  of  all  sorts  with- 
out altering  its  pace.    It  also  leaps  well.     If  much 


The  Moose  261 

pressed  or  startled  it  breaks  into  an  awkward  gal- 
lop, which  is  quite  fast  for  a  few  hundred  yards, 
but  which  speedily  tires  it  out.  After  being  dis- 
turbed by  the  hunter  a  moose  usually  trots  a  long 
distance  before  halting. 

One  thing  which  renders  the  chase  of  the  moose 
particularly  interesting  is  the  fact  that  there  is  in 
it  on  rare  occasions  a  spice  of  peril.  Under  certain 
circumstances  it  may  be  called  dangerous  quarry, 
being,  properly  speaking,  the  only  animal  of  the 
deer  kind  which  ever  fairly  deserves  the  title.  In 
a  hand-to-hand  grapple  an  elk  or  caribou,  or  even 
under  exceptional  circumstances  a  blacktail  or  a 
whitetail,  may  show  itself  an  ugly  antagonist ;  and 
indeed  a  maddened  elk  may  for  a  moment  take  the 
offensive;  but  the  moose  is  the  only  one  of  the 
tribe  with  which  this  attitude  is  at  all  common. 
In  bodily  strength  and  capacity  to  do  harm  it  sur- 
passes the  elk ;  and  in  temper  it  is  far  more  savage 
and  more  apt  to  show  fight  when  assailed  by  man ; 
exactly  as  the  elk  in  these  respects  surpasses  the 
common  deer.  Two  hunters  with  whom  I  was 
well  acquainted  once  wintered  between  the  Wind 
River  Mountains  and  the  Three  Tetons,  many 
years  ago,  in  the  days  of  the  buffalo.  They  lived 
on  game,  killing  it  on  snow-shoes — for  the  most 
part  wapiti  and  deer,  but  also  bison,  and  one 
moose,  though  they  saw  others.  The  wapiti  bulls 
kept  their  antlers  two  months  longer  than  the 


262         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

moose;  nevertheless,  when  chased  they  rarely 
made  an  effort  to  use  them,  while  the  hornless 
moose  displayed  far  more  pugnacity,  and  also  ran 
better  through  the  deep  snow.  The  winter  was 
very  severe,  the  snows  were  heavy  and  the  crusts 
hard ;  so  that  the  hunters  had  little  trouble  in  over- 
taking their  game,  although — being  old  mountain- 
men,  and  not  hide-hunters — they  killed  only  what 
was  needed.  Of  course,  in  such  hunting  they  came 
very  close  to  the  harried  game,  usually  after  a 
chase  of  from  twenty  minutes  to  three  hours. 
They  found  that  the  ordinary  deer  would  scarcely 
charge  under  any  circumstances ;  that  among  the 
wapiti  it  was  only  now  and  then  that  individuals 
would  turn  upon  their  pursuers — though  they 
sometimes  charged  boldly ;  but  that  both  the  bison 
and  especially  the  moose  when  worried  and  ap- 
proached too  near,  would  often  turn  to  bay  and 
make  charge  after  charge  in  the  most  resolute  man- 
ner, so  that  they  had  to  be  approached  with  some 
caution. 

Under  ordinary  conditions,  however,  there  is 
very  little  danger,  indeed,  of  a  moose  charging.  A 
charge  does  not  take  place  once  in  a  hundred  times 
when  the  moose  is  killed  by  fair  still-hunting ;  and 
it  is  altogether  exceptional  for  those  who  assail 
them  from  boats  or  canoes  to  be  put  in  jeopardy. 
Even  a  cow  moose,  with  her  calf,  will  run  if  she 
has  the  chance;    and  a  rutting  bull  will  do  the 


The  Moose  263 

same.  Such  a  bull  when  wounded  may  walk 
slowly  forward,  grunting  savagely,  stamping  with 
his  fore  feet,  and  slashing  the  bushes  with  his 
antlers ;  but,  if  his  antagonist  is  any  distance  off, 
he  rarely  actually  runs  at  him.  Yet  there  are  now 
and  then  found  moose  prone  to  attack  on  slight 
provocation ;  for  these  great  deer  differ  as  widely 
as  men  in  courage  and  ferocity.  Occasionally  a 
hunter  is  charged  in  the  fall  when  he  has  lured  the 
game  to  him  by  calling,  or  when  he  has  wounded 
it  after  a  stalk.  In  one  well-authenticated  in- 
stance which  was  brought  to  my  attention,  a  settler 
on  the  left  bank  of  the  St.  John's,  in  New  Bruns- 
wick, was  tramped  to  death  by  a  bull  moose  which 
he  had  called  to  him  and  wounded.  A  New  Yorker 
of  my  acquaintance.  Dr.  Merrill,  was  charged 
under  rather  peculiar  circumstances.  He  stalked 
and  mortally  wounded  a  bull  which  promptly  ran 
towards  him.  Between  them  was  a  gully  in  which 
it  disappeared.  Immediately  afterwards,  as  he 
thought,  it  reappeared  on  his  side  of  the  gully,  and 
with  a  second  shot  he  dropped  it.  Walking  for- 
ward, he  found  to  his  astonishment  that  with  his 
second  bullet  he  had  killed  a  cow  moose ;  the  bull 
lay  dying  in  the  gully,  out  of  which  he  had  scared 
the  cow  by  his  last  rush. 

However,  speaking  broadly,  the  danger  to  the 
still-hunter  engaged  in  one  of  the  legitimate 
methods  of  the  chase  is  so  small  that  it  may  be 


264  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

disregarded ;  for  he  usually  kills  his  game  at  some 
little  distance,  while  the  moose,  as  a  rule,  only  at- 
tacks if  it  has  been  greatly  worried  and  angered, 
and  if  its  pursuer  is  close  at  hand.  When  a  moose 
is  surprised  and  shot  at  by  a  hunter  some  way  off, 
its  one  thought  is  of  flight.  Hence,  the  hunters 
who  are  charged  by  moose  are  generally  those  who 
follow  them  during  the  late  winter  and  early  spring, 
when  the  animals  have  yarded  and  can  be  killed 
on  snow-shoes, — by  "crusting,"  as  it  is  termed, — 
a  very  destructive  and  often  a  very  unsportsman- 
like species  of  chase. 

If  the  snowfall  is  very  light,  moose  do  not  yard 
at  all ;  but  in  a  hard  winter  they  begin  to  make 
their  yards  in  December.  A  ''yard"  is  not,  as 
some  people  seem  to  suppose,  a  trampled-down 
space,  with  definite  boundaries ;  the  term  merely 
denotes  the  spot  which  a  moose  has  chosen  for  its 
winter  home,  choosing  it  because  it  contains  plenty 
of  browse  in  the  shape  of  young  trees  and  saplings, 
and  perhaps  also  because  it  is  sheltered  to  some 
extent  from  the  fiercest  winds  and  heaviest  snow- 
drifts. The  animal  travels  to  and  fro  across  this 
space  in  straight  lines  and  irregular  circles  after 
food,  treading  in  its  own  footsteps,  where  practic- 
able. As  the  snow  steadily  deepens,  these  lines  of 
travel  become  beaten  paths.  There  results  finally 
a  space  half  a  mile  square — sometimes  more,  some- 
times very  much  less,  according  to  the  lay  of  the 


The  Moose  265 

land,  and  the  number  of  moose  yarding  together 
— where  the  deep  snow  is  seamed  in  every  direc- 
tion by  a  network  of  narrow  paths  along  which  a 
moose  can  travel  at  speed,  its  back  level  with  the 
snow  roimd  about.  Sometimes,  when  moose  are 
very  plenty,  many  of  these  yards  lie  so  close  to- 
gether that  the  beasts  can  readily  make  their  way 
from  one  to  another.  When  such  is  the  case,  the 
most  expert  snow-shoer,  under  the  most  favorable 
conditions,  cannot  overtake  them,  for  they  can 
then  travel  very  fast  through  the  paths,  keeping 
their  gait  all  day.  In  the  early  decades  of  the 
present  century,  the  first  settlers  in  Aroostook 
County,  Maine,  while  moose-hunting  in  winter, 
were  frequently  baffled  in  this  manner. 

When  hunters  approach  an  isolated  yard  the 
moose  immediately  leave  it  and  run  off  through 
the  snow.  If  there  is  no  crust,  and  if  their  long 
legs  can  reach  the  ground,  the  snow  itself  impedes 
them  but  little,  because  of  their  vast  strength  and 
endurance.  Snowdrifts,  which  render  an  ordinary 
deer  absolutely  helpless,  and  bring  even  an  elk  to 
a  standstill,  offer  no  impediment  whatever  to  a 
moose.  If,  as  happens  very  rarely,  the  loose  snow 
is  of  such  depth  that  even  the  stilt-like  legs  of  the 
moose  cannot  touch  solid  earth,  it  flounders  and 
struggles  forward  for  a  little  time,  and  then  sinks 
exhausted ;  for  a  caribou  is  the  only  large  animal 
which  can  travel  under  such  conditions.     If  there 


266         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

be  a  crust,  even  though  the  snow  is  not  remark- 
ably deep,  the  labor  of  the  moose  is  vastly  in- 
creased, as  it  breaks  through  at  every  step,  cutting 
its  legs  and  exhausting  itself.  A  caribou,  on  the 
other  hand,  will  go  across  a  crust  as  well  as  a  man 
on  snow-shoes,  and  can  never  be  caught  by  the 
latter,  save  under  altogether  exceptional  conditions 
of  snowfall  and  thaw. 

"  Crusting,"  or  following  game  on  snow-shoes,  is, 
as  the  name  implies,  almost  always  practised  after 
the  middle  of  February,  when  thaws  begin,  and  the 
snow  crusts  on  top.  The  conditions  for  success  in 
crusting  moose  and  deer  are  very  different.  A 
crust  through  which  a  moose  would  break  at  every 
stride  may  carry  a  running  deer  without  mishap ; 
while  the  former  animal  would  trot  at  ease  through 
drifts  in  which  the  latter  would  be  caught  as  if  in 
a  quicksand. 

Hunting  moose  on  snow,  therefore,  may  be,  and 
very  often  is,  mere  butchery ;  and  because  of  this 
possibility  or  probability,  and  also  because  of  the 
fact  that  it  is  by  far  the  most  destructive  kind  of 
hunting,  and  is  carried  on  at  a  season  when  the 
bulls  are  hornless  and  the  cows  heavy  with  calf, 
it  is  rigidly  and  properly  forbidden  wherever  there 
are  good  game  laws.  Yet  this  kind  of  hunting 
may  also  be  carried  on  under  circumstances  which 
render  it  if  not  a  legitimate,  yet  a  most  exciting 
and  manly  sport,  only  to  be  followed  by  men  of 


The  Moose  267 

tried  courage,  hardihood,  and  skill.  This  is  not 
because  it  ever  necessitates  any  skill  whatever  in 
the  use  of  the  rifle,  or  any  particular  knowledge  of 
hunting-craft;  but  because  under  the  conditions 
spoken  of,  the  hunter  must  show  great  endurance 
and  resolution,  and  must  be  an  adept  in  the  use  of 
snow-shoes. 

It  all  depends  upon  the  depth  of  the  snow  and 
the  state  of  the  crust.  If  when  the  snow  is  very 
deep  there  comes  a  thaw,  and  if  it  then  freezes 
hard,  the  moose  are  overtaken  and  killed  with 
ease;  for  the  crust  cuts  their  legs,  they  sink  to 
their  bellies  at  every  plunge,  and  speedily  become 
so  worn  out  that  they  can  no  longer  keep  ahead  of 
any  man  who  is  even  moderately  skilful  in  the  use 
of  snow-shoes;  though  they  do  not,  as  deer  so 
often  do,  sink  exhausted  after  going  a  few  rods 
from  their  yard.  Under  such  circumstances  a  few 
hardy  hunters  or  settlers,  who  are  perfectly  reck- 
less in  slaughtering  game,  may  readily  kill  all  the 
moose  in  a  district.  It  is  a  kind  of  hunting  which 
just  suits  the  ordinary  settler,  who  is  hardy  and 
enduring,  but  knows  little  of  hunting-craft  proper. 

If  the  snow  is  less  deep,  or  the  crust  not  so  heavy, 
the  moose  may  travel  for  scores  of  miles  before  it 
is  overtaken;  and  this  even  though  the  crust  be 
strong  enough  to  bear  a  man  wearing  snow-shoes 
without  breaking.  The  chase  then  involves  the 
most  exhausting  fatigue.     Moreover,  it   can  be 


268         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

carried  on  only  by  those  who  are  very  skilful  in 
the  use  of  snow-shoes.  These  snow-shoes  are  of  two 
kinds.  In  the  northeast,  and  in  the  most  tangled 
forests  of  the  northwest,  the  webbed  snow-shoes 
are  used ;  on  the  bare  mountain-sides,  and  in  the 
open  forests  of  the  Rockies,  the  long,  narrow 
wooden  skees  or  Norwegian  snow-skates  are  pre- 
ferred, as  upon  them  men  can  travel  much  faster, 
though  they  are  less  handy  in  thick  timber.  Hav- 
ing donned  his  snow-shoes  and  struck  the  trail  of  a 
moose,  the  hunter  may  have  to  follow  it  three 
days  if  the  snow  is  of  only  ordinary  depth,  with  a 
moderate  crust.  He  shuffles  across  the  snow  with- 
out halt  while  daylight  lasts,  and  lies  down  where- 
ever  he  happens  to  be  when  night  strikes  him, 
probably  with  a  little  frozen  bread  as  his  only 
food.  The  hunter  thus  goes  through  inordinate 
labor,  and  suffers  from  exposure ;  not  infrequently 
his  feet  are  terribly  cut  by  the  thongs  of  the  snow- 
shoes,  and  become  sore  and  swollen,  causing  great 
pain.  When  overtaken  after  such  a  severe  chase, 
the  moose  is  usually  so  exhausted  as  to  be  unable 
to  make  any  resistance;  in  all  likelihood  it  has 
run  itself  to  a  standstill.  Accordingly,  the  quality 
of  the  firearms  makes  but  little  difference  in  this 
kind  of  hunting.  Many  of  the  most  famous  old 
moose-hunters  of  Maine,  in  the  long  past  days, 
before  the  Civil  War,  when  moose  were  plenty 
there,  used  what  were  known  as  "three-dollar'* 


The  Moose  269 

guns;  light,  single-barrelled  smooth-bores.  One 
whom  I  knew  used  a  flint-lock  musket,  a  relic  of 
the  War  of  181 2.  Another  in  the  course  of  an 
exhausting  three  days'  chase  lost  the  lock  of  his 
cheap  percussion-cap  gim ;  and  when  he  overtook 
the  moose  he  had  to  explode  the  cap  by  hammer- 
ing it  with  a  stone. 

It  is  in  ''crusting,"  when  the  chase  has  lasted 
but  a  comparatively  short  time,  that  moose  most 
frequently  show  fight ;  for  they  are  not  cast  into 
a  state  of  wild  panic  by  a  sudden  and  unlooked-for 
attack  by  a  man  who  is  a  long  distance  from  them, 
but,  on  the  contrary,  after  being  worried  and 
irritated,  are  approached  very  near  by  foes  from 
whom  they  have  been  fleeing  for  hours.  Never- 
theless, in  the  majority  of  cases  even  crusted 
moose  make  not  the  slightest  attempt  at  retalia- 
tion. If  the  chase  has  been  very  long,  or  if  the 
depth  of  the  snow  and  character  of  the  crust  are  ex- 
ceptionally disadvantageous  to  them,  they  are  so 
utterly  done  out,  when  overtaken,  that  they  can- 
not make  a  struggle,  and  may  even  be  killed  with 
an  axe.  I  know  of  at  least  five  men  who  have 
thus  killed  crusted  moose  with  an  axe ;  one  in  the 
Rocky  Moimtains,  one  in  Minnesota,  three  in 
Maine. 

But  in  ordinary  snow  a  man  who  should  thus 
attempt  to  kill  a  moose  would  merely  jeopardize 
his  own  life ;  and  it  is  not  an  uncommon  thing  for 


270  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

chased  moose,  when  closely  approached  by  their 
pursuers,  even  when  the  latter  carry  guns  and  are 
expert  snow-shoers,  to  charge  them  with  such 
ferocity  as  to  put  them  in  much  peril.  A  brother 
of  one  of  my  cow-hands,  a  man  from  Maine,  was 
once  nearly  killed  by  a  cow-moose.  She  had  been 
in  a  yard  with  her  last  year's  calf  when  started. 
After  two  or  three  hours'  chase  he  overtook  them. 
They  were  travelling  in  single  file,  the  cow  break- 
ing her  path  through  the  snow,  while  the  calf 
followed  close  behind,  and  in  his  nervousness  some- 
times literally  ran  up  on  her.  The  man  trotted 
close  alongside;  but,  before  he  could  fire,  the  old 
cow  spun  round  and  charged  him,  her  mane  bris- 
tling and  her  green  eyes  snapping  with  rage.  It 
happened  that  just  there  the  snow  became  shallow 
and  the  moose  gained  so  rapidly  that  the  man,  to 
save  his  life,  sprang  up  a  tree.  As  he  did  so  the 
cow  reared  and  struck  at  him,  one  fore  foot  catch- 
ing in  his  snow-shoe  and  tearing  it  clear  off,  giving 
his  ankle  a  bad  wrench.  After  watching  him  a 
minute  or  two  she  turned  and  continued  her  flight ; 
whereupon  he  climbed  down  the  tree,  patched  up 
his  torn  snow-shoe  and  limped  after  the  moose, 
which  he  finally  killed. 

An  old  hunter  named  Purvis  told  me  of  an  ad- 
venture of  the  kind,  which  terminated  fatally.  He 
was  himting  near  the  Coeur  d'Al^ne  Mountains 
with  a  mining  prospector  named  Pingree;   both 


The  Moose  271 

were  originally  from  New  Hampshire.  Late  in 
November  there  came  a  heavy  fall  of  snow,  deep 
enough  to  soon  bring  a  deer  to  a  standstill,  al- 
though not  so  deep  as  to  hamper  a  moose's  move- 
ments. The  men  bound  on  their  skees  and  started 
to  the  borders  of  a  lake,  to  kill  some  blacktail.  In 
a  thicket  close  to  the  lake's  brink  they  suddenly 
came  across  a  bull  moose — a  lean  old  fellow,  still 
savage  from  the  rut.  Pingree,  who  was  nearest, 
fired  at  and  wounded  him;  whereupon  he  rushed 
straight  at  the  man,  knocked  him  down  before  he 
could  turn  round  on  his  skees,  and  began  to  pound 
him  with  his  terrible  fore  feet.  Summoned  by  his 
comrade's  despairing  cries,  Purvis  rushed  round 
the  thickets,  and  shot  the  squealing,  trampling 
monster  through  the  body,  and  immediately  after 
had  to  swing  himself  up  a  small  tree  to  avoid  its 
furious  rush.  The  moose  did  not  turn  after  this 
charge,  but  kept  straight  on,  and  was  not  seen 
again.  The  wounded  man  was  past  all  help,  for 
his  chest  was  beaten  in,  and  he  died  in  a  couple  of 
hours. 

END   OF   VOLUME    I 


NEW  LIBRARY  EDITION 


THE 

WILDERNESS   HUNTER 


An  Account  of  the  big  Game  of  the  United  States 
AND  ITS  Chase  with  Horse,  Hound  and  Rifle 


BY 


THEODORE  ROOSEVELT 


TWO  VOLUMES  IN  ONE 
PART  II 


G.  P.  PUTNAM'S  SONS 

NEW    YORK   AND    LONDON 

Zbc  Ikntcfterbocftcr  presa 


Copyright,  1893 

by 

G.  P.  PUTNAM'S  SONS 


CONTENTS 


CHAPTER  I 


THE    BISON    OR   AMERICAN    BUFFALO 

Extermination  of  the  bison — My  brother  and  cousin  take  a 
hunting  trip  in  Texas — Hardships — Hunting  on  the  Brazos — 
Many  buffalo  slain — Following  four  bulls — A  stampede — 
Splitting  the  herd — Occasional  charges — A  Comanche  war 
party — Great  herds  on  the  Arkansas — Adventure  of  Clarence 
King — The  bison  of  the  mountains — At  the  vanishing  point 
— A  hunt  for  mountain  bison — A  trail  discovered — Skilful 
tracking — A  band  of  six — Death  of  the  bull — A  camp  in  the 
canyon 1-30 

CHAPTER  II 

THE  BLACK  BEAR 

Habits  of  the  black  bear — Holds  his  own  well  in  the  land — 
The  old  hunters — Hunting  bear  with  dogs — General  Hamp- 
ton's hunting — Black  bear  at  bay — A  bear  catching  mice  and 
chipmunks — Occasional  raids  on  the  farmyard — Their  weight 
— Those  I  have  killed 3 1-41 

CHAPTER  III 

OLD    EPHRAIM,    THE    GRISLY    BEAR 

The  king  of  American  game — Varieties  of  the  grisly — 
Worthlessness  of  old  hunters'  opinions — Grisly  contrasted 
with  black  bear — Size — Habits  in  old  times — Habits  nowa- 

VOL.  II. 

ni 


iv  Contents 

days  —  Hibernating  —  Cattle-killing — Horse-killing — Range 
cow  repels  bear — Bear  kills  sheep  and  hogs — Occasional  raids 
on  game — Killing  bison,  elk,  and  moose — Eats  carrion — Old 
hes  sometimes  kill  cubs — Usually  eats  roots  and  vegetables 
— Fondness  for  berries — Its  foes — Den — Fond  of  wallowing 
— Shes  and  cubs — Trapping  bears — Hunting  them  with  dogs 
— Ordinarily  killed  with  rifle 42-79 

CHAPTER  IV 

HUNTING   THE    GRISLY 

Camp  in  the  mountains — After  the  first  snow — Trailing  and 
stalking  a  big  bear — His  death — Lying  in  camp — Stalking  and 
shooting  a  bear  at  a  moose  carcass — Lying  in  wait  for  a  bear 
by  a  dead  elk — He  comes  late  in  the  evening — Is  killed — A 
successful  hunting  trip — A  quarrel — I  start  home  alone — Get 
lost  on  second  day — Shot  at  a  grisly — His  resolute  charge  and 
death — Danger  in  hunting  the  grisly — Exaggerated,  but  real 
— Rogers  charged — Difference  in  ferocity  in  different  bears — 
Dr.  Merrill's  queer  experience — Tazewell  Woody's  adven- 
tures— Various  ways  in  which  bears  attack — Examples — 
Men  maimed  and  slain — Instances — Mr.  Whitney's  experience 
— A  bear  killed  on  the  round-up — Ferocity  of  old-time  bears 
— Occasional  unprovoked  attacks — A  French  trapper  at- 
tacked— Cowboys  and  bears — Killing  them  with  a  revolver — 
Feat  of  General  Jackson 80-127 

CHAPTER  V 

THE    COUGAR 

Difficulty  of  killing  the  cougar — My  own  failures— Kill  one 
in  the  mountains — Hunting  the  cougar  with  hounds — Ex- 
perience of  General  Wade  Hampton  and  Colonel  Cecil  Clay — 
"Hold  on.  Penny" — What  the  cougar  preys  on — Its  haunts 
— Its  calls — Rarely  turns  on  man — Occasionally  dangerous — 
Instances 128-142 


Contents  v 

CHAPTER  VI 

A    PECCARY    HUNT    ON    THE    NUECES 

A  trip  in  southern  Texas — A  ranch  on  the  Frio — Roping 
cattle — Extermination  of  the  peccary — Odd  habits — Occa- 
sionally attacks  unprovoked — We  drive  south  to  the  Nueces 
— Flower  prairies — Semi-tropical  landscape — Hunting  on 
horseback — Half-blood  hounds — Find  a  small  band  of  pec- 
caries— Kill  two — How  they  act  when  at  bay — Their  occa- 
sional freaks 143-157 

CHAPTER  VII 

HUNTING    WITH    HOUNDS 

Old-time  hunters  rarely  used  dogs — The  packs  of  the 
southern  planters — Coursing  in  the  West — Hunting  with 
greyhounds  near  my  ranch — ^Jack- rabbits,  foxes,  coyotes,  an- 
telope, and  deer — An  original  sportsman  of  the  prairies — 
Colonel  Williams's  greyhounds — Riding  on  the  plains — Cross- 
country riding — Fox-hunting  at  Geneseo — A  day  with  Mr. 
Wadsworth's  hounds — The  Meadowbrook  drag-hounds — 
High  jumping — A  meet  at  Sagamore  Hill — Fox-hunting  and 
fetishism — Prejudices  of  sportsmen,  foreign  and  native — 
Different  styles  of  riding 158-187 

CHAPTER  VIII 

WOLVES    AND    WOLF-HOUNDS 

The  wolf — Contrasted  with  coyote — Variations  in  color — 
Former  abundance — The  riddle  of  its  extermination — Inex- 
plicable differences  in  habits  between  closely  related  species — 
Size  of  wolf — Animals  upon  which  it  preys — Attacking  cattle; 
horses;  other  animals;  foxes,  dogs,  and  even  coyotes — Rtms 
down  deer  and  antelope — Coyotes  catch  jack- rabbits — Wolves 
around  camp — A  wolf  shot — Wolf-hunting  with  hounds — An 
overmatch   for  most   dogs — Decimating  a   pack — Coursing 


VI  Contents 

wolves  with  greyhounds — A  hunt  in  the  foothills — Rous- 
ing the  wolves — The  chase — The  worry — Death  of  both 
wolves — Wolf-hounds  near  Fort  Benton — Other  packs — The 
Sun  River  hounds — Their  notable  feats — Colonel  Williams's 
hounds 188-207 

CHAPTER  IX 

IN    COWBOY    LAND 

Development  of  archaic  types  of  character — Cowboys  and 
hunters — Rough  virtues  and  faults — Incidents — Hunting  a 
horse-thief — Tale  of  the  ending  of  a  desperado — Light- 
hearted  way  of  regarding  "broke  horses" — Hardness  of  the 
life — Deaths  from  many  causes — Fight  of  Indians  with  trap- 
pers— The  slaying  of  the  Medicine  Chief  Sword- Bearer — Mad 
feat  and  death  of  two  Cheyenne  braves   ,  208-261 

CHAPTER   X 

HUNTING     LORE 

Game  which  ought  not  to  be  killed — Killing  black  bear 
with  a  knife — Sports  with  rod  and  shotgun — Snow-shoeing 
and  mountaineering — American  writers  on  outdoor  life  : 
Burroughs,  Thoreau,  Audubon,  Coues,  etc.  —  American 
hunting  books — American  writers  on  life  in  the  wilderness  : 
Parkman,  Irving,  Cooper  on  pioneer  life — American  states- 
men and  soldiers  devoted  to  the  chase:  Lincoln,  Jackson, 
Israel  Putnam — A  letter  from  Webster  on  trout-fishing — 
Clay — Washington — Hunting  Extracts  from  Washington's 
diaries — Washington  as  a  fox-hunter 262-282 

Appendix 283 

Index 289 


THE 

WILDERNESS  HUNTER 


THE  WILDERNESS 
HUNTER 


CHAPTER  I 

THE    BISON    OR   AMERICAN    BUFFALO 

WHEN  we  became  a  nation,  in  1776,  the 
buffaloes,  the  first  animals  to  vanish 
when  the  wilderness  is  settled,  roved 
to  the  crests  of  the  mountains  which  mark  the 
western  boundaries  of  Pennsylvania,  Virginia,  and 
the  Carolinas.  They  were  plentiful  in  what  are 
now  the  States  of  Ohio,  Kentucky,  and  Tennessee. 
But  by  the  beginning  of  the  present  century  they 
had  been  driven  beyond  the  Mississippi;  and  for 
the  next  eighty  years  they  formed  one  of  the  most 
distinctive  and  characteristic  features  of  existence 
on  the  great  plains.  Their  numbers  were  count- 
less— incredible.  In  vast  herds  of  hundreds  of 
thousands  of  individuals,  they  roamed  from  the 
Saskatchewan  to  the  Rio  Grande  and  westward 
to  the  Rocky  Mountains.  They  furnished  all  the 
means  of  livelihood  to  the  tribes  of  Horse  Indians, 

VOL.  II.— I. 


2  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

and  to  the  curious  population  of  French  Metis,  or 
Half-breeds,  on  the  Red  River,  as  well  as  to  those 
dauntless  and  archetypical  wanderers,  the  white 
hunters  and  trappers.  Their  numbers  slowly  di- 
minished, but  the  decrease  was  very  gradual  until 
after  the  Civil  War.  They  were  not  destroyed  by 
the  settlers,  but  by  the  railways  and  the  skin- 
hunters. 

After  the  ending  of  the  Civil  War,  the  work  of 
constructing  trans-continental  railway  lines  was 
pushed  forward  with  the  utmost  vigor.  These 
supplied  cheap  and  indispensable,  but  hitherto 
wholly  lacking,  means  of  transportation  to  the 
hunters;  and  at  the  same  time  the  demand  for 
buffalo  robes  and  hides  became  very  great,  while 
the  enormous  numbers  of  the  beasts,  and  the  com- 
parative ease  with  which  they  were  slaughtered, 
attracted  throngs  of  adventurers.  The  result  was 
such  a  slaughter  of  big  game  as  the  world  had 
never  before  seen;  never  before  were  so  many 
large  animals  of  one  species  destroyed  in  so  short 
a  time.  Several  million  buffaloes  were  slain.  In 
fifteen  years  from  the  time  the  destruction  fairly 
began  the  great  herds  were  exterminated.  In  all 
probability  there  are  not  now,  all  told,  five  hun- 
dred head  of  wild  buffaloes  on  the  American  con- 
tinent ;  and  no  herd  of  a  hundred  individuals  has 
been  in  existence  since  1884. 

The  first  great  break  followed  the  building  of 


The  Bison  or  American  Buffalo       3 

the  Union  Pacific  railway.  All  the  buffaloes  of 
the  middle  region  were  then  destroyed,  and  the 
others  were  split  into  two  vast  sets  of  herds,  the 
northern  and  the  southern.  The  latter  were  de- 
stroyed first,  about  1878;  the  former  not  until 
1883.  My  own  chief  experience  with  buffaloes 
was  obtained  in  the  latter  year,  among  small  bands 
and  scattered  individuals,  near  my  ranch  on  the 
Little  Missouri ;  I  have  related  it  elsewhere.  But 
two  of  my  kinsmen  were  more  fortimate,  and  took 
part  in  the  chase  of  these  lordly  beasts  when  the 
herds  still  darkened  the  prairie  as  far  as  the  eye 
could  see. 

During  the  first  two  months  of  1877,  my  brother 
Elliott,  then  a  lad  not  seventeen  years  old,  made  a 
buffalo-hunt  toward  the  edge  of  the  Staked  Plains 
in  northern  Texas.  He  was  thus  in  at  the  death  of 
the  southern  herds ;  for  all,  save  a  few  scattering 
bands,  were  destroyed  within  two  years  of  this 
time.  He  was  with  my  cousin,  John  Roosevelt, 
and  they  went  out  on  the  range  with  six  other  ad- 
venturers. It  was  a  party  of  just  such  young  men 
as  frequently  drift  to  the  frontier.  All  were  short 
of  cash,  and  all  were  hardy,  vigorous  fellows, 
eager  for  excitement  and  adventure.  My  brother 
was  much  the  youngest  of  the  party,  and  the  least 
experienced;  but  he  was  well-grown,  strong  and 
healthy,  and  very  fond  of  boxing,  wrestling,  nm- 
ning,   riding,   and   shooting;    moreover,   he  had 


4  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

served  an  apprenticeship  in  hunting  deer  and 
turkeys.  Their  mess-kit,  ammunition,  bedding, 
and  provisions  were  carried  in  two  prairie-wagons, 
each  drawn  by  four  horses.  In  addition  to  the 
teams  they  had  six  saddle-animals — all  of  them 
shaggy,  unkempt  mustangs.  Three  or  four  dogs, 
setters  and  half-bred  greyhounds,  trotted  along 
behind  the  wagons.  Each  man  took  his  turn  for 
two  days  as  teamster  and  cook;  and  there  were 
always  two  with  the  wagons,  or  camp,  as  the  case 
might  be,  while  the  other  six  were  off  hunting, 
usually  in  couples.  The  expedition  was  undertaken 
partly  for  sport  and  partly  with  the  hope  of  profit ; 
for,  after  purchasing  the  horses  and  wagons,  none 
of  the  party  had  any  money  left,  and  they  were 
forced  to  rely  upon  selling  skins  and  hides,  and, 
when  near  the  forts,  meat. 

They  started  on  January  2d,  and  shaped  their 
course  for  the  head-waters  of  the  Salt  Fork  of  the 
Brazos,  the  centre  of  abundance  for  the  great 
buffalo  herds.  During  the  first  few  days  they 
were  in  the  outskirts  of  the  settled  country,  and 
shot  only  small  game — quail  and  prairie-fowl; 
then  they  began  to  kill  turkey,  deer,  and  antelope. 
These  they  swapped  for  flour  and  feed  at  the 
ranches  or  squalid,  straggling  frontier  towns.  On 
several  occasions  the  hunters  were  lost,  spending 
the  night  out  in  the  open,  or  sleeping  at  a  ranch, 
if  one  was  found.     Both  towns  and  ranches  were 


The  Bison  or  American  Buffalo       5 

filled  with  rough  customers;  all  of  my  brother's 
companions  were  muscular,  hot-headed  fellows; 
and  as  a  consequence  they  were  involved  in  several 
savage  free  fights,  in  which,  fortunately,  nobody 
was  seriously  hurt.  My  brother  kept  a  very  brief 
diary,  the  entries  being  fairly  startling  from  their 
conciseness.  A  number  of  times  the  mention  of 
their  arrival,  either  at  a  halting-place,  a  little  vil- 
lage, or  a  rival  buffalo-camp,  is  followed  by  the 
laconic  remark,  "big  fight,"  or  *'big  row";  but 
once  they  evidently  concluded  discretion  to  be  the 
better  part  of  valor,  the  entry  for  January  20th 
being,  "On  the  road — passed  through  Belknap — 
too  lively,  so  kept  on  to  the  Brazos — very  late." 
The  buffalo-camps  in  particular  were  very  jealous 
of  one  another,  each  party  regarding  itself  as  hav- 
ing exclusive  right  to  the  range  it  was  the  first  to 
find;  and  on  several  occasions  this  feeling  came 
near  involving  my  brother  and  his  companions  in 
serious  trouble. 

While  slowly  driving  the  heavy  wagons  to  the 
hunting-grounds  they  suffered  the  usual  hardships 
of  plains  travel.  The  weather,  as  in  most  Texas 
winters,  alternated  between  the  extremes  of  heat 
and  cold.  There  had  been  little  rain;  in  conse- 
quence water  was  scarce.  Twice  they  were  forced 
to  cross  wild,  barren  wastes,  where  the  pools  had 
dried  up,  and  they  suffered  terribly  from  thirst. 
On  the  first   occasion  the  horses  were  in  good 


6  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

condition,  and  they  travelled  steadily,  with  only  oc- 
casional short  halts,  for  over  thirty-six  hours,  by 
which  time  they  were  across  the  waterless  country. 
The  journal  reads:  "January  27th. — Big  hunt — 
no  water,  and  we  left  Quinn's  blockhouse  this 
morning  3  a.m. — on  the  go  all  night — hot.  Janu- 
ary 28th. — No  water — hot — at  seven  we  struck 
water,  and  by  eight  Stinking  Creek — grand  'hur- 
rah.'" On  the  second  occasion,  the  horses  were 
weak  and  travelled  slowly,  so  the  party  went 
forty-eight  hours  without  drinking.  "February 
19th. — Pulled  on  twenty-one  miles — trail  bad — 
freezing  night,  no  water,  and  wolves  after  our 
fresh  meat.  20th. — Made  nineteen  miles  over 
prairie;  again  only  mud,  no  water,  freezing  hard 
— frightful  thirst.  21st. — ^Thirty  miles  to  Clear 
Fork,  fresh  water."  These  entries  were  hurriedly 
jotted  down  at  the  time,  by  a  boy  who  deemed  it 
unmanly  to  make  any  especial  note  of  hardship  or 
suffering;  but  every  plainsman  will  understand 
the  real  agony  implied  in  working  hard  for  two 
nights,  one  day,  and  portions  of  two  others,  with- 
out water,  even  in  cool  weather.  During  the  last 
few  miles  the  staggering  horses  were  only  just  able 
to  drag  the  lightly  loaded  wagon, — for  they  had 
but  one  with  them  at  the  time, — while  the  men 
plodded  along  in  sullen  silence,  their  mouths  so 
parched  that  they  could  hardly  utter  a  word.  My 
own  hunting  and  ranching  were  done  in  the  north. 


The  Bison  or  American  Buffalo       7 

where  there  is  more  water ;  so  I  have  never  had  a 
similar  experience.  Once  I  took  a  team  in  thirty- 
six  hours  across  a  country  where  there  was  no 
water;  but  by  good  luck  it  rained  heavily  in  the 
night,  so  that  the  horses  had  plenty  of  wet  grass, 
and  I  caught  the  rain  in  my  slicker,  and  so  had 
enough  water  for  myself.  Personally,  I  have  but 
once  been  as  long  as  twenty-six  hours  without 
water. 

The  party  pitched  their  permanent  camp  in  a 
canyon  of  the  Brazos  known  as  Canyon  Blanco. 
The  last  few  days  of  their  journey  they  travelled 
beside  the  river  through  a  veritable  hunter's  para- 
dise. The  drought  had  forced  all  the  animals  to 
come  to  the  larger  watercourses,  and  the  country 
was  literally  swarming  with  game.  Every  day, 
and  all  day  long,  the  wagons  travelled  through  the 
herds  of  antelopes  that  grazed  on  every  side,  while 
whenever  they  approached  the  canyon  brink 
bands  of  deer  started  from  the  timber  that  fringed 
the  river's  course ;  often,  even  the  deer  wandered 
out  on  the  prairie  with  the  antelope.  Nor  was 
the  game  shy;  for  the  hunters,  both  red  and 
white,  followed  only  the  buffaloes,  until  the  huge, 
shaggy  herds  were  destroyed,  and  the  smaller 
beasts  were  in  consequence  but  little  molested. 

Once  my  brother  shot  five  antelopes  from  a 
single  stand,  when  the  party  were  short  of  fresh 
venison ;  he  was  out  of  sight  and  to  leeward,  and 


8  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

the  antelopes  seemed  confused  rather  than  alarmed 
at  the  rifle-reports  and  the  fall  of  their  compan- 
ions. As  was  to  be  expected  where  game  was  so 
plenty,  wolves  and  coyotes  also  abounded.  At 
night  they  surrounded  the  camp,  wailing  and 
howling  in  a  kind  of  shrieking  chorus  through- 
out the  hours  of  darkness;  one  night  they  came 
up  so  close  that  the  frightened  horses  had  to  be 
hobbled  and  guarded.  On  another  occasion  a 
large  wolf  actually  crept  into  camp,  where  he 
was  seized  by  the  dogs,  and  the  yelling,  writhing 
knot  of  combatants  rolled  over  one  of  the  sleepers ; 
finally,  the  long-toothed  prowler  managed  to 
shake  himself  loose,  and  vanished  in  the  gloom. 
One  evening  they  were  almost  as  much  startled 
by  a  visit  of  a  different  kind.  They  were  just 
finishing  supper  when  an  Indian  stalked  suddenly 
and  silently  out  of  the  surrounding  darkness, 
squatted  down  in  the  circle  of  firelight,  remarked 
gravely,  ''Me  Tonk,"  and  began  helping  himself 
from  the  stew.  He  belonged  to  the  friendly  tribe 
of  Tonkaways,  so  his  hosts  speedily  recovered 
their  equanimity ;  as  for  him,  he  had  never  lost 
his,  and  he  sat  eating  by  the  fire  until  there  was 
literally  nothing  left  to  eat.  The  panic  caused 
by  his  appearance  was  natural;  for  at  that  time 
the  Comanches  were  a  scourge  to  the  buffalo- 
hunters,  ambushing  them  and  raiding  their  camps ; 
and  several  bloody  fights  had  taken  place. 


The  Bison  or  American  Bufifalo       9 

Their  camp  had  been  pitched  near  a  deep  pool 
or  water-hole.  On  both  sides  the  blufEs  rose  like 
walls,  and  where  they  had  crumbled  and  lost  their 
sheemess  the  vast  buffalo  herds,  passing  and  re- 
passing for  countless  generations,  had  worn  fur- 
rowed trails  so  deep  that  the  backs  of  the  beasts 
were  but  little  above  the  surrounding  soil.  In  the 
bottom,  and  in  places  along  the  crests  of  the  cliffs 
that  hemmed  in  the  canyon-like  valley,  there 
were  groves  of  tangled  trees,  tenanted  by  great 
flocks  of  wild  turkeys.  Once  my  brother  made 
two  really  remarkable  shots  at  a  pair  of  these 
great  birds.  It  was  at  dusk,  and  they  were  flying 
directly  overhead  from  one  cliff  to  the  other.  He 
had  in  his  hand  a  thirty-eight  calibre  Ballard 
rifle,  and,  as  the  gobblers  winged  their  way  heavily 
by,  he  brought  both  down  with  two  successive 
bullets.  This  was  of  course  mainly  a  piece  of 
mere  luck;  but  it  meant  good  shooting,  too.  The 
Ballard  was  a  very  accurate,  handy  little  weapon ; 
it  belonged  to  me,  and  was  the  first  rifle  I  ever 
owned  or  used.  With  it  I  had  once  killed  a  deer, 
the  only  specimen  of  large  game  I  had  then  shot ; 
and  I  presented  the  rifle  to  my  brother  when  he 
went  to  Texas.  In  our  happy  ignorance  we 
deemed  it  quite  good  enough  for  buffalo  or  any- 
thing else ;  but  out  on  the  plains  my  brother  soon 
foimd  himself  forced  to  procure  a  heavier  and 
more  deadly  weapon. 


lo  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

When  camp  was  pitched  the  horses  were  turned 
loose  to  graze  and  refresh  themselves  after  their 
trying  journey,  during  which  they  had  lost  flesh 
wofully.  They  were  watched  and  tended  by 
the  two  men  who  were  always  left  in  camp,  and, 
save  on  rare  occasions,  were  only  used  to  haul  in 
the  buffalo  hides.  The  camp-guards  for  the  time 
being  acted  as  cooks;  and,  though  coffee  and 
flour  both  ran  short  and  finally  gave  out,  fresh 
meat  of  every  kind  was  abundant.  The  camp 
was  never  without  buffalo-beef,  deer  and  ante- 
lope venison,  wild  turkeys,  prairie-chickens,  quails, 
ducks,  and  rabbits.  The  birds  were  simply 
"potted,"  as  occasion  required;  when  the  quarry 
was  deer  or  antelope,  the  hunters  took  the  dogs 
with  them  to  run  down  the  wounded  animals. 
But  almost  the  entire  attention  of  the  hunters 
was  given  to  the  buffalo.  After  an  evening  spent 
in  lounging  round  the  camp-fire  and  a  sound 
night's  sleep,  wrapped  in  robes  and  blankets, 
they  would  get  up  before  daybreak,  snatch  a 
hurried  breakfast,  and  start  off  in  couples  through 
the  chilly  dawn.  The  great  beasts  were  very 
plentiful;  in  the  first  day's  hunt  twenty  were 
slain ;  but  the  herds  were  restless  and  ever  on  the 
move.  Sometimes  they  would  be  seen  right  by 
the  camp,  and  again  it  would  need  an  all-day's 
tramp  to  find  them.  There  was  no  difficulty  in 
spying  them — the  chief  trouble  with  forest  game ; 


The  Bison  or  American  Buffalo     1 1 

for  on  the  prairie  a  biiffalo  makes  no  effort  to 
hide,  and  its  black,  shaggy  bulk  looms  up  as  far  as 
the  eye  can  see.  Sometimes  they  were  fotmd  in 
small  parties  of  three  or  four  individuals,  some- 
times in  bands  of  about  two  hundred,  and  again 
in  great  herds  of  many  thousands;  and  solitary 
old  bulls,  expelled  from  the  herds,  were  common. 
If  on  broken  land,  among  hills  and  ravines,  there 
was  not  much  difficulty  in  approaching  from  the 
leeward;  for,  though  the  sense  of  smell  in  the 
buffalo  is  very  acute,  they  do  not  see  well  at  a 
distance  through  their  overhanging  frontlets  of 
coarse  and  matted  hair.  If,  as  was  generally  the 
case,  they  were  out  on  the  open,  rolling  prairie, 
the  stalking  was  far  more  difficult.  Every  hol- 
low, every  earth  hummock  and  sage  bush  had  to 
be  used  as  cover.  The  hunter  wriggled  through 
the  grass  flat  on  his  face,  pushing  himself  along 
for  perhaps  a  quarter  of  a  mile  by  his  toes  and 
fingers,  heedless  of  the  spiny  cactus.  When  near 
enough  to  the  huge,  unconscious  quarry,  the 
hunter  began  firing,  still  keeping  himself  carefully 
concealed.  If  the  smoke  was  blown  away  by  the 
wind,  and  if  the  buffaloes  caught  no  glimpse  of  the 
assailant,  they  would  often  stand  motionless  and 
stupid  until  many  of  their  number  had  been  slain, 
the  hunter  being  careful  not  to  fire  too  high,  aim- 
ing just  behind  the  shoulder,  about  a  third  of  the 
way  up  the  body,  that  his  bullet  might  go  through 


12  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

the  lungs.  Sometimes,  even  after  they  saw  the 
man,  they  would  act  as  if  confused  and  panic- 
struck,  huddling  together  and  staring  at  the 
smoke-puffs;  but  generally  they  were  off  at  a 
lumbering  gallop  as  soon  as  they  had  an  idea  of 
the  point  of  danger.  When  once  started,  they 
ran  for  many  miles  before  halting,  and  their  pur- 
suit on  foot  was  extremely  laborious. 

One  morning  my  brother  and  cousin  had  been 
left  in  camp  as  guards.  They  were  sitting  idly 
warming  themselves  in  the  first  sunbeams,  when 
their  attention  was  sharply  drawn  to  four  buffa- 
loes that  were  coming  to  the  pool  to  drink.  The 
beasts  came  down  a  game  trail,  a  deep  rut  in 
the  bluff,  fronting  where  they  were  sitting,  and 
they  did  not  dare  to  stir  for  fear  of  being  dis- 
covered. The  buffaloes  walked  into  the  pool, 
and  after  drinking  their  fill  stood  for  some  time 
with  the  water  running  out  of  their  mouths,  idly 
lashing  their  sides  with  their  short  tails,  enjoying 
the  bright  warmth  of  the  early  sunshine;  then, 
with  much  splashing  and  the  gurgling  of  soft 
mud,  they  left  the  pool  and  clambered  up  the 
bluff  with  unwieldy  agility.  As  soon  as  they 
turned,  my  brother  and  cousin  ran  for  their  rifles, 
but  before  they  got  back  the  buffaloes  had  crossed 
the  bluff  crest.  Climbing  after  them,  the  two 
hunters  found,  when  they  reached  the  summit, 
that  their  game,  instead  of  halting,  had  struck 


The  Bison  or  American  Buffalo     13 

straight  off  across  the  prairie  at  a  slow  lope, 
doubtless  intending  to  rejoin  the  herd  they  had 
left.  After  a  moment's  consultation  the  men 
went  in  pursuit,  excitement  overcoming  their 
knowledge  that  they  ought  not,  by  rights,  to 
leave  camp.  They  struck  a  steady  trot,  following 
the  animals  by  sight  until  they  passed  over  a 
knoll,  and  then  trailing  them.  Where  the  grass 
was  long,  as  it  was  for  the  first  four  or  five  miles, 
this  was  a  work  of  no  difficulty,  and  they  did  not 
break  their  gait,  only  glancing  now  and  then  at 
the  trail.  As  the  sun  rose  and  the  day  became 
warm,  their  breathing  grew  quicker;  and  the 
sweat  rolled  off  their  faces  as  they  ran  across  the 
rough  prairie  sward,  up  and  down  the  long  in- 
clines, now  and  then  shifting  their  heavy  rifles 
from  one  shoulder  to  the  other.  But  they  were 
in  good  training,  and  they  did  not  have  to  halt. 
At  last  they  reached  stretches  of  bare  ground, 
sun-baked  and  grassless,  where  the  trail  grew 
dim;  and  here  they  had  to  go  very  slowly,  care- 
fully examining  the  faint  dents  and  marks  made 
in  the  soil  by  the  heavy  hoofs,  and  unravelling 
the  trail  from  the  mass  of  old  footmarks.  It  was 
tedious  work,  but  it  enabled  them  to  completely 
recover  their  breath  by  the  time  that  they  again 
struck  the  grassland;  and  but  a  few  hundred 
yards  from  its  edge,  in  a  slight  hollow,  they  saw 
the  four  buffaloes  just  entering  a  herd  of  fifty  or 


14  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

sixty  that  were  scattered  out  grazing.  The  herd 
paid  no  attention  to  the  newcomers,  and  these 
immediately  began  to  feed  greedily.  After  a 
whispered  consultation,  the  two  hunters  crept 
back,  and  made  a  long  circle  that  brought  them 
well  to  leeward  of  the  herd,  in  line  with  a  slight 
rise  in  the  grotind.  They  then  crawled  up  to 
this  rise  and,  peering  through  the  tufts  of  tall, 
rank  grass,  saw  the  unconscious  beasts  a  hundred 
and  twenty-five  or  fifty  yards  away.  They  fired 
together,  each  mortally  wounding  his  animal,  and 
then,  rushing  in  as  the  herd  halted  in  confusion, 
and  following  them  as  they  ran,  impeded  by 
numbers,  hurry,  and  panic,  they  eventually  got 
three  more. 

On  another  occasion  the  same  two  hunters 
nearly  met  with  a  frightful  death,  being  over- 
taken by  a  vast  herd  of  stampeded  buffaloes.  All 
animals  that  go  in  herds  are  subject  to  these  in- 
stantaneous attacks  of  uncontrollable  terror,  un- 
der the  influence  of  which  they  become  perfectly 
mad,  and  rush  headlong  in  dense  masses  on  any 
form  of  death.  Horses,  and  more  especially  cattle, 
often  suffer  from  stampedes ;  it  is  a  danger  against 
which  the  cowboys  are  compelled  to  be  perpet- 
ually on  guard.  A  band  of  stampeded  horses, 
sweeping  in  mad  terror  up  a  valley,  will  dash 
against  a  rock  or  tree  with  such  violence  as  to 
leave  several  dead  animals  at  its  base,  while  the 


The  Bison  or  American  Buffalo     15 

survivors  race  on  without  halting ;  they  will  over- 
turn and  destroy  tents  and  wagons,  and  a  man 
on  foot  caught  in  the  rush  has  but  a  small  chance 
for  his  life.  A  buffalo  stampede  is  much  worse — 
or  rather  was  much  worse,  in  the  old  days — be- 
cause of  the  great  weight  and  immense  numbers 
of  the  beasts,  which,  in  a  fury  of  heedless  terror, 
plunged  over  cliffs  and  into  rivers,  and  bore  down 
whatever  was  in  their  path.  On  the  occasion  in 
question,  my  brother  and  cousin  were  on  their 
way  homeward.  They  were  just  mounting  one 
of  the  long,  low  swells,  into  which  the  prairie  was 
broken,  when  they  heard  a  low,  muttering,  rum- 
bling noise,  like  far-off  thunder.  It  grew  steadily 
louder,  and,  not  knowing  what  it  meant,  they 
hurried  forward  to  the  top  of  the  rise.  As  they 
reached  it,  they  stopped  short  in  terror  and 
amazement,  for  before  them  the  whole  prairie 
was  black  with  madly  rushing  buffaloes. 

Afterward  they  learned  that  another  couple  of 
hunters,  four  or  five  miles  off,  had  fired  into  and 
stampeded  a  large  herd.  This  herd,  in  its  rush, 
gathered  others,  all  thundering  along  together  in 
uncontrollable  and  increasing  panic. 

The  surprised  hunters  were  far  away  from  any 
broken  ground  or  other  place  of  refuge,  while  the 
vast  herd  of  huge,  plunging,  maddened  beasts  was 
charging  straight  down  on  them,  not  a  quarter 
of  a  mile  distant.     Down  they  came!  thousands 


1 6  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

upon  thousands,  their  front  extending  a  mile  in 
breadth,  while  the  earth  shook  beneath  their 
thunderous  gallop,  and,  as  they  came  closer,  their 
shaggy  frontlets  loomed  dimly  through  the  col- 
umns of  dust  thrown  up  from  the  dry  soil.  The 
two  hunters  knew  that  their  only  hope  for  life  was 
to  split  the  herd,  which,  though  it  had  so  broad 
a  front,  was  not  very  deep.  If  they  failed  they 
would  inevitably  be  trampled  to  death. 

Waiting  until  the  beasts  were  in  close  range, 
they  opened  a  rapid  fire  from  their  heavy  breech- 
loading  rifles,  yelling  at  the  top  of  their  voices. 
For  a  moment  the  result  seemed  doubtful.  The 
line  thundered  steadily  down  on  them;  then  it 
swayed  violently,  as  two  or  three  of  the  brutes 
immediately  in  their  front  fell  beneath  the  bullets, 
while  their  neighbors  made  violent  efforts  to  press 
off  sideways.  Then  a  narrow  wedge-shaped  rift 
appeared  in  the  line,  and  widened  as  it  came 
closer,  and  the  buffaloes,  shrinking  from  their 
foes  in  front,  strove  desperately  to  edge  away  from 
the  dangerous  neighborhood ;  the  shouts  and 
shots  were  redoubled;  the  hunters  were  almost 
choked  by  the  cloud  of  dust,  through  which  they 
could  see  the  stream  of  dark  huge  bodies  passing 
within  rifle-length  on  either  side;  and  in  a  mo- 
ment the  peril  was  over,  and  the  two  men  were 
left  alone  on  the  plain,  unharmed,  though  with 
their  nerves  terribly  shaken.     The  herd  careered 


The  Bison  or  American  Buffalo     17 

on  toward  the  horizon,  save  five  individuals 
which  had  been  killed  or  disabled  by  the  shots. 

On  another  occasion,  when  my  brother  was  out 
with  one  of  his  friends,  they  fired  at  a  small  herd 
containing  an  old  bull;  the  bull  charged  the 
smoke,  and  the  whole  herd  followed  him.  Prob- 
ably they  were  simply  stampeded,  and  had  no 
hostile  intention ;  at  any  rate,  after  the  death  of 
their  leader,  they  rushed  by  without  doing  any 
damage. 

But  buffaloes  sometimes  charged  with  the  ut- 
most determination,  and  were  then  dangerous 
antagonists.  My  cousin,  a  very  hardy  and  reso- 
lute hunter,  had  a  narrow  escape  from  a  wounded 
cow  which  he  followed  up  a  steep  bluff  or  sand 
cliff.  Just  as  he  reached  the  summit,  he  was 
charged,  and  was  only  saved  by  the  sudden  ap- 
pearance of  his  dog,  which  distracted  the  cow's 
attention.  He  thus  escaped  with  only  a  tumble 
and  a  few  bruises. 

My  brother  also  came  in  for  a  charge,  while 
killing  the  biggest  bull  that  was  slain  by  any 
of  the  party.  He  was  out  alone,  and  saw  a 
small  herd  of  cows  and  calves  at  some  distance, 
with  a  huge  bull  among  them,  towering  above 
them  like  a  giant.  There  was  no  break  in  the 
ground,  nor  any  tree  nor  bush  near  them,  but,  by 
making  a  half -circle,  my  brother  managed  to  creep 
up  against  the  wind  behind  a  slight  roll  in  the 


VOL.  II. — 2. 


1 8  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

prairie  surface,  until  he  was  within  seventy-five 
yards  of  the  grazing  and  unconscious  beasts. 
There  were  some  cows  and  calves  between  him 
and  the  bull,  and  he  had  to  wait  some  moments 
before  they  shifted  position,  as  the  herd  grazed  on- 
ward and  gave  him  a  fair  shot;  in  the  interval 
they  had  moved  so  far  forward  that  he  was  in 
plain  view.  His  first  bullet  struck  just  behind  the 
shoulder;  the  herd  started  and  looked  aroimd, 
but  the  bull  merely  lifted  his  head  and  took  a  step 
forward,  his  tail  curled  up  over  his  back.  The 
next  bullet  likewise  struck  fair,  nearly  in  the  same 
place,  telling  with  a  loud  ''pack  "  against  the 
thick  hide,  and  making  the  dust  fly  up  from  the 
matted  hair.  Instantly  the  great  bull  wheeled 
and  charged  in  headlong  anger,  while  the  herd 
fied  in  the  opposite  direction.  On  the  bare 
prairie,  with  no  spot  of  refuge,  it  was  useless  to 
try  to  escape,  and  the  hunter,  with  reloaded  rifle, 
waited  until  the  bull  was  not  far  off,  then  drew  up 
his  weapon  and  fired.  Either  he  was  nervous,  or 
the  bull  at  the  moment  bounded  over  some  ob- 
stacle, for  the  ball  went  a  little  wild;  neverthe- 
less, by  good  luck,  it  broke  a  fore  leg,  and  the 
great  beast  came  crashing  to  the  earth,  and  was 
slain  before  he  could  struggle  to  his  feet. 

Two  days  after  this  event,  a  war  party  of 
Comanches  swept  down  along  the  river.  They 
"jumped"  a  neighboring  camp,  killing  one  man 


The  Bison  or  American  Buffalo     19 

and  wounding  two  more,  and  at  the  same  time 
ran  off  all  but  three  of  the  horses  belonging  to 
our  eight  adventurers.  With  the  remaining  three 
horses  and  one  wagon  they  set  out  homeward. 
The  march  was  hard  and  tedious ;  they  lost  their 
way  and  were  in  jeopardy  from  quicksands  and 
cloudbursts;  they  suffered  from  thirst  and  cold, 
their  shoes  gave  out,  and  their  feet  were  lamed 
by  cactus  spines.  At  last  they  reached  Fort 
Griffen  in  safety,  and  great  was  their  ravenous  re- 
joicing when  they  procured  some  bread, — for  dur- 
ing the  final  fortnight  of  the  hunt  they  had  been 
without  flour  or  vegetables  of  any  kind,  or  even 
coffee,  and  had  subsisted  on  fresh  meat  "  straight.'* 
Nevertheless,  it  was  a  very  healthy  as  well  as  a 
very  pleasant  and  exciting  experience;  and  I 
doubt  if  any  of  those  who  took  part  in  it  will 
ever  forget  their  great  buffalo-hunt  on  the  Brazos. 
My  friend.  Gen.  W.  H.  Walker,  of  Virginia,  had 
an  experience  in  the  early  '50's  with  buffaloes  on 
the  Upper  Arkansas  River,  which  gives  some  idea 
of  their  enormous  numbers  at  that  time.  He  was 
camped  with  a  scouting  party  on  the  banks  of  the 
river,  and  had  gone  out  to  try  to  shoot  some  meat. 
There  were  many  buffaloes  in  sight,  scattered, 
according  to  their  custom,  in  large  bands.  When 
he  was  a  mile  or  two  away  from  the  river  a  dull 
roaring  sound  in  the  distance  attracted  his  atten- 
tion, and  he  saw  that  a  herd  of  buffalo  far  to  the 


20  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

south,  away  from  the  river,  had  been  stampeded 
and  was  running  his  way.  He  knew  that  if  he  was 
caught  in  the  open  by  the  stampeded  herd -his 
chance  for  Hfe  would  be  small,  and  at  once  ran 
for  the  river.  By  desperate  efforts  he  reached 
the  breaks  in  the  sheer  banks  just  as  the  buffaloes 
reached  them,  and  got  into  a  position  of  safety  on 
the  pinnacle  of  a  little  bluff.  From  this  point  of 
vantage  he  could  see  the  entire  plain.  To  the 
very  verge  of  the  horizon  the  brown  masses  of 
the  buffalo  bands  showed  through  the  dust  clouds, 
coming  on  with  a  thunderous  roar  like  that  of 
surf.  Camp  was  a  mile  away,  and  the  stampede 
luckily  passed  to  one  side  of  it.  Watching  his 
chance  he  finally  dodged  back  to  the  tent,  and  all 
that  afternoon  watched  the  immense  masses  of 
buffalo,  as  band  after  band  tore  to  the  brink  of 
the  bluffs  on  one  side,  raced  down  them,  rushed 
through  the  water,  up  the  bluffs  on  the  other 
side,  and  again  off  over  the  plain,  churning  the 
sandy,  shallow  stream  into  a  ceaseless  tumult. 
When  darkness  fell  there  was  no  apparent  decrease 
in  the  numbers  that  were  passing,  and  all  through 
that  night  the  continuous  roar  showed  that  the 
herds  were  still  threshing  across  the  river.  To- 
wards dawn  the  sound  at  last  ceased,  and  General 
Walker  arose  somewhat  irritated,  as  he  had  reck- 
oned on  killing  an  ample  supply  of  meat,  and  he 
supposed  that  there  would  be  now  no  bison  left 


The  Bison  or  American  Buffalo     21 

south  of  the  river.  To  his  astonishment,  when 
he  strolled  up  on  the  bluffs  and  looked  over  the 
plain,  it  was  still  covered  far  and  wide  with  groups 
of  buffalo,  grazing  quietly.  Apparently  there 
were  as  many  on  that  side  as  ever,  in  spite  of  the 
many  scores  of  thousands  that  must  have  crossed 
over  the  river  during  the  stampede  of  the  after- 
noon and  night.  The  barren-ground  caribou  is 
the  only  American  animal  which  is  now  ever  seen 
in  such  enormous  herds. 

In  1862,  Mr.  Clarence  King,  while  riding  along 
the  overland  trail  through  western  Kansas,  passed 
through  a  great  buffalo  herd,  and  was  himself  in- 
jured in  an  encoimter  with  a  bull.  The  great  herd 
was  then  passing  north,  and  Mr.  King  reckoned 
that  it  must  have  covered  an  area  nearly  seventy 
miles  by  thirty  in  extent ;  the  figures  representing 
his  rough  guess,  made  after  travelling  through  the 
herd  crosswise,  and  upon  knowing  how  long  it 
took  to  pass  a  given  point  going  northward.  This 
great  herd,  of  course,  was  not  a  solid  mass  of  buf- 
faloes ;  it  consisted  of  innumerable  bands  of  every 
size,  dotting  the  prairie  within  the  limits  given. 
Mr.  King  was  mounted  on  a  somewhat  unman- 
ageable horse.  On  one  occasion  in  following  a 
band  he  wounded  a  large  bull,  and  became  so 
wedged  in  by  the  maddened  animals  that  he  was 
unable  to  avoid  the  charge  of  the  bull,  which  was 
at  its  last  gasp.     Coming  straight  toward  him,  it 


22  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

leaped  into  the  air  and  struck  the  afterpart  of 
the  saddle  full  with  its  massive  forehead.  The 
horse  was  hurled  to  the  ground  with  a  broken 
back,  and  King's  leg  was  likewise  broken,  while 
the  bull  turned  a  complete  somersault  over  them 
and  never  rose  again. 

In  the  recesses  of  the  Rocky  Mountains,  from 
Colorado  northward  through  Alberta,  and  in  the 
depths  of  the  subarctic  forest  beyond  the  Sas- 
katchewan, there  have  always  been  foimd  small 
numbers  of  the  bison,  locally  called  the  moim- 
tain  buffalo  and  wood  buffalo;   often  indeed  the 
old  hunters  term  these  animals  "bison,"  although 
they  never  speak  of  the  plains  animals  save  as 
buffalo.     They  form  a  slight  variety  of  what  was 
formerly  the  ordinary  plains  bison,  intergrading 
with  it ;   on  the  whole,  they  are  darker  in  color, 
with  longer,   thicker  hair,    and  in   consequence 
with  the  appearance  of  being  heavier-bodied  and 
shorter-legged.     They  have  been  sometimes  spo- 
ken of  as  forming  a  separate  species ;  but,  judging 
from  my  own  limited  experience,   and  from   a 
comparison  of  the  many  hides  I  have  seen,   I 
think  they  are  really  the  same  animal,  many  in- 
dividuals of  the  two  so-called  varieties  being  quite 
indistinguishable.     In   fact,  the   only   moderate- 
sized  herd  of  wild  bison  in  existence  to-day,  the 
protected  herd  in  the  Yellowstone  Park,  is  com- 
posed of  animals  intermediate  in  habits  and  coat 


The  Bison  or  American  Buffalo     23 

between  the  mountain  and  plains  varieties — as 
were  all  the  herds  of  the  Bighorn,  Big  Hole, 
Upper  Madison,  and  Upper  Yellowstone  valleys. 

However,  the  habitat  of  these  wood  and  moun- 
tain bison  yielded  them  shelter  from  hunters  in  a 
way  that  the  plains  never  could,  and  hence  they 
have  always  been  harder  to  kill  in  the  one  place 
than  in  the  other ;  for  precisely  the  same  reasons 
that  have  held  good  with  the  elk,  which  have 
been  completely  exterminated  from  the  plains, 
while  still  abimdant  in  many  of  the  forest  fast- 
nesses of  the  Rockies.  Moreover,  the  bison's  dull 
eyesight  is  no  special  harm  in  the  woods,  while 
it  is  peculiarly  hurtful  to  the  safety  of  any  beast 
on  the  plains,  where  eyesight  avails  more  than  any 
other  sense,  the  true  game  of  the  plains  being 
the  prongbuck,  the  most  keen-sighted  of  Ameri- 
can animals.  On  the  other  hand  the  bison's 
hearing,  of  little  avail  on  the  plains,  is  of  much 
assistance  in  the  woods;  and  its  excellent  nose 
helps  equally  in  both  places. 

Though  it  was  always  more  difficult  to  kill  the 
bison  of  the  forests  and  mountains  than  the  bison 
of  the  prairie,  yet  now  that  the  species  is,  in  its 
wild  state,  hovering  on  the  brink  of  extinction, 
the  difficulty  is  immeasurably  increased.  A  mer- 
ciless and  terrible  process  of  natural  selection, 
in  which  the  agents  were  rifle-bearing  hunters, 
has  left  as  the  last  survivors  in  a  hopeless  struggle 


24  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

for  existence  only  the  wariest  of  the  bison  and 
those  gifted  with  the  sharpest  senses.  That  this 
was  true  of  the  last  lingering  individuals  that 
survived  the  great  slaughter  on  the  plains  is  well 
shown  by  Mr.  Homaday  in  his  graphic  account 
of  his  campaign  against  the  few  scattered  buffalo 
which  still  lived  in  1886  between  the  Missouri 
and  the  Yellowstone,  along  the  Big  Dry.  The 
bison  of  the  plains  and  the  prairies  have  now 
vanished;  and  so  few  of  their  brethren  of  the 
mountains  and  the  northern  forests  are  left,  that 
they  can  just  barely  be  reckoned  among  Ameri- 
can game ;  but  whoever  is  so  fortunate  as  to  find 
any  of  these  animals  must  work  his  hardest,  and 
show  all  his  skill  as  a  hunter,  if  he  wishes  to  get 
one. 

In  the  fall  of  1889  I  heard  that  a  very  few 
bison  were  still  left  around  the  head  of  Wisdom 
River.  Thither  I  went  and  hunted  faithfully; 
there  was  plenty  of  game  of  other  kind,  but  of 
bison  not  a  trace  did  we  see.  Nevertheless,  a 
few  days  later  that  same  year  I  came  across  these 
great  wild  cattle  at  a  time  when  I  had  no  idea 
of  seeing  them. 

It  was,  as  nearly  as  we  could  tell,  in  Idaho, 
just  south  of  the  Montana  boundary  line,  and 
some  twenty-five  miles  west  of  the  line  of  Wyo- 
ming. We  were  camped  high  among  the  moun- 
tains, with  a  small  pack-train.      On  the  day  in 


The  Bison  or  American  Buffalo     25 

question  we  had  gone  out  to  find  moose,  but  had 
seen  no  sign  of  them,  and  had  then  begim  to  chmb 
over  the  higher  peaks  with  an  idea  of  getting  sheep. 
The  old  hunter  who  was  with  me  was,  very  for- 
timately,  suffering  from  rheumatism,  and  he  there- 
fore carried  a  long  stafE  instead  of  his  rifle ;  I  say 
fortimately,  for  if  he  had  carried  his  rifle  it  would 
have  been  impossible  to  stop  his  firing  at  such 
game  as  bison,  nor  would  he  have  spared  the  cows 
and  calves. 

About  the  middle  of  the  afternoon  we  crossed 
a  low,  rocky  ridge,  above  timber  line,  and  saw  at 
our  feet  a  basin  or  round  valley  of  singular  beauty. 
Its  walls  were  formed  by  steep  mountains.  At  its 
upper  end  lay  a  small  lake,  bordered  on  one  side 
by  a  meadow  of  emerald  green.  The  lake's  other 
side  marked  the  edge  of  the  frowning  pine  forest 
which  filled  the  rest  of  the  valley,  and  hung  high 
on  the  sides  of  the  gorge  which  formed  its  outlet. 
Beyond  the  lake  the  ground  rose  in  a  pass  evi- 
dently much  frequented  by  game  in  bygone  days, 
their  trails  lying  along  it  in  thick  zigzags,  each 
gradually  fading  out  after  a  few  hundred  yards, 
and  then  starting  again  in  a  little  different  place, 
as  game  trails  so  often  seem  to  do. 

We  bent  our  steps  towards  these  trails,  and  no 
sooner  had  we  reached  the  first  than  the  old  hunter 
bent  over  it  with  a  sharp  exclamation  of  wonder. 
There  in  the   dust,  apparently  but  a  few  hours 


26  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

old,  were  the  unmistakable  hoof -marks  of  a  small 
band  of  bison.  They  were  headed  towards  the 
lake.  There  had  been  a  half  a  dozen  animals  in 
the  party ;  one  a  big  bull,  and  two  calves. 

We  immediately  turned  and  followed  the  trail. 
It  led  down  to  the  little  lake,  where  the  beasts  had 
spread  and  grazed  on  the  tender,  green  blades,  and 
had  drimk  their  fill.  The  footprints  then  came  to- 
gether again,  showing  where  the  animals  had 
gathered  and  walked  ofE  in  single  file  to  the  forest. 
Evidently  they  had  come  to  the  pool  in  the  early 
morning,  walking  over  the  game  pass  from  some 
neighboring  valley,  and  after  drinking  and  feeding 
had  moved  into  the  pine  forest  to  find  some  spot 
for  their  noontide  rest. 

It  was  a  very  still  day,  and  there  were  nearly 
three  hours  of  daylight  left.  Without  a  word  my 
silent  companion,  who  had  been  scanning  the 
whole  country  with  hawk-eyed  eagerness,  be- 
sides scrutinizing  the  sign  on  his  hands  and  knees, 
took  the  trail,  motioning  me  to  follow.  In  a  mo- 
ment we  entered  the  woods,  breathing  a  sigh  of 
relief  as  we  did  so;  for  while  in  the  meadow  we 
could  never  tell  that  the  buffalo  might  not  see  us, 
if  they  happened  to  be  lying  in  some  place  with  a 
commanding  lookout. 

The  old  hunter  was  thoroughly  roused,  and  he 
showed  himself  a  very  skilful  tracker.  We  were 
much  favored  by  the  character  of  the  forest,  which 


The  Bison  or  American  Buffalo     27 

was  rather  open,  and  in  most  places  free  from 
undergrowth  and  down  timber.  As  in  most  Rocky- 
Mountain  forests  the  timber  was  small,  not  only  as 
compared  to  the  giant  trees  of  the  groves  of  the 
Pacific  coast,  but  as  compared  to  the  forests  of  the 
Northeast.  The  ground  was  covered  with  pine- 
needles  and  soft  moss,  so  that  it  was  not  difficult  to 
walk  noiselessly.  Once  or  twice  when  I  trod  on  a 
small  dry  twig,  or  let  the  nails  in  my  shoes  clink 
slightly  against  a  stone,  the  hunter  turned  to  me 
with  a  frown  of  angry  impatience;  but  as  he 
walked  slowly,  continually  halting  to  look  ahead, 
as  well  as  stooping  over  to  examine  the  trail,  I  did 
not  find  it  very  difficult  to  move  silently.  I  kept 
a  little  behind  him,  and  to  one  side,  save  when  he 
crouched  to  take  advantage  of  some  piece  of  cover, 
and  I  crept  in  his  footsteps.  I  did  not  look  at  the 
trail  at  all,  but  kept  watching  ahead,  hoping  at 
any  moment  to  see  the  game. 

It  was  not  very  long  before  we  struck  their  day- 
beds,  which  were  made  on  a  knoll,  where  the  forest 
was  open  and  where  there  was  much  down  timber. 
After  leaving  the  day-beds  the  animals  had  at  first 
fed  separately  around  the  grassy  base  and  sides  of 
the  knoll,  and  had  then  made  off  in  their  usual 
single  file,  going  straight  to  a  small  pool  in  the 
forest.  After  drinking  they  had  left  this  pool,  and 
travelled  down  towards  the  gorge  at  the  mouth  of 
the  basin,  the  trail  leading  along  the  sides  of  the 


28  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

steep  hill,  which  were  dotted  by  open  glades; 
while  the  roar  of  the  cataracts  by  which  the  stream 
was  broken  ascended  from  below.  Here  we  moved 
with  redoubled  caution,  for  the  sign  had  grown 
very  fresh  and  the  animals  had  once  more  scat- 
tered and  begun  feeding.  When  the  trail  led  across 
the  glades  we  usually  skirted  them  so  as  to  keep 
in  the  timber. 

At  last,  on  nearing  the  edge  of  one  of  these 
glades  we  saw  a  movement  among  the  young  trees 
on  the  other  side,  not  fifty  yards  away.  Peering 
through  the  safe  shelter  yielded  by  some  thick 
evergreen  bushes,  we  speedily  made  out  three 
bison,  a  cow,  a  calf,  and  a  yearling,  grazing  greedily 
on  the  other  side  of  the  glade,  under  the  fringing 
timber ;  all  with  their  heads  up  hill.  Soon  another 
cow  and  calf  stepped  out  after  them.  I  did  not 
wish  to  shoot,  waiting  for  the  appearance  of  the 
big  bull  which  I  knew  was  accompanying  them. 

So  for  several  minutes  I  watched  the  great, 
clumsy,  shaggy  beasts,  as  all  unconscious  they 
grazed  in  the  open  glade.  Behind  them  rose  the 
dark  pines.  At  the  left  of  the  glade  the  ground  fell 
away  to  form  the  side  of  a  chasm;  down  in  its 
depths  the  cataracts  foamed  and  thundered;  be- 
yond, the  huge  mountains  towered,  their  crests 
crimsoned  by  the  sinking  sun.  Mixed  with  the 
eager  excitement  of  the  hunter  was  a  certain  half 
melancholy  feeling  as  I  gazed  on  these  bison,  them- 


The  Bison  or  American  Buffalo     29 

selves  part  of  the  last  remnant  of  a  doomed  and 
nearly  vanished  race.  Few,  indeed,  are  the  men 
who  now  have,  or  evermore  shall  have,  the  chance 
of  seeing  the  mightiest  of  American  beasts,  in  all 
his  wild  vigor,  surrounded  by  the  tremendous 
desolation  of  his  far-off  mountain  home. 

At  last,  when  I  had  begun  to  grow  very  anxious 
lest  the  others  should  take  alarm,  the  bull  likewise 
appeared  on  the  edge  of  the  glade,  and  stood  with 
outstretched  head,  scratching  his  throat  against  a 
young  tree,  which  shook  violently.  I  aimed  low, 
behind  his  shoulder,  and  pulled  trigger.  At  the 
crack  of  the  rifle  all  the  bison,  without  the  mo- 
mentary halt  of  terror-struck  surprise  so  common 
among  game,  turned  and  raced  off  at  headlong 
speed.  The  fringe  of  young  pines  beyond  and 
below  the  glade  cracked  and  swayed  as  if  a  whirl- 
wind were  passing,  and  in  another  moment  they 
reached  the  top  of  a  very  steep  incline,  thickly 
strewn  with  boulders  and  dead  timber.  Down 
this  they  plunged  with  reckless  speed ;  their  sure- 
footedness  was  a  marvel  in  such  seemingly  im- 
wieldy  beasts.  A  column  of  dust  obscured  their 
passage,  and  under  its  cover  they  disappeared  in 
the  forest ;  but  the  trail  of  the  bull  was  marked 
by  splashes  of  frothy  blood,  and  we  followed  it 
at  a  trot.  Fifty  yards  beyond  the  border  of  the 
forest  we  foimd  the  stark  black  body  stretched 
motionless.    He  was  a  splendid  old  bull,  still  in 


30  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

his  full  vigor,  with  large  sharp  horns,  and  heavy 
mane  and  glossy  coat;  and  I  felt  the  most  ex- 
ulting pride  as  I  handled  and  examined  him ;  for 
I  had  procured  a  trophy  such  as  can  fall  hence- 
forth to  few  hunters  indeed. 

It  was  too  late  to  dress  the  beast  that  evening ; 
so,  after  taking  out  the  tongue  and  cutting  off 
enough  meat  for  supper  and  breakfast,  we  scram- 
bled down  to  near  the  torrent,  and  after  some 
search  fotmd  a  good  spot  for  camping.  Hot  and 
dusty  from  the  day's  hard  tramp,  I  imdressed  and 
took  a  plunge  in  the  stream,  the  icy  water  making 
me  gasp.  Then,  having  built  a  slight  lean-to  of 
brush,  and  dragged  together  enough  dead  timber 
to  bum  all  night,  we  cut  long  alder  twigs,  sat  down 
before  some  embers  raked  apart,  and  grilled  and 
ate  our  buffalo  meat  with  the  utmost  relish.  Night 
had  fallen;  a  cold  wind  blew  up  the  valley;  the 
torrent  roared  as  it  leaped  past  us,  and  drowned 
our  words  as  we  strove  to  talk  over  our  adventures 
and  success;  while  the  flame  of  the  fire  flickered 
and  danced,  lighting  up  with  continual  vivid 
flashes  the  gloom  of  the  forest  round  about. 


CHAPTER  II 

THE    BLACK    BEAR 

NEXT  to  the  whitetail  deer  the  black  bear  is 
the  commonest  and  most  widely  distrib- 
uted of  American  big  game.  It  is  still 
foimd  quite  plentifully  in  northern  New  England, 
in  the  Adirondacks,  Cat  skills,  and  along  the  entire 
length  of  the  Alleghanies,  as  well  as  in  the  swamps 
and  canebrakes  of  the  Southern  States.  It  is  also 
common  in  the  great  forests  of  northern  Michigan, 
Wisconsin,  and  Minnesota,  and  throughout  the 
Rocky  Moimtains  and  the  timbered  ranges  of  the 
Pacific  coast.  In  the  East  it  has  always  ranked 
second  only  to  the  deer  among  the  beasts  of  chase. 
The  bear  and  the  buck  were  the  staple  objects  of 
pursuit  of  all  the  old  hunters.  They  were  more 
plentiful  than  the  bison  and  elk  even  in  the  long 
vanished  days  when  these  two  great  monarchs  of 
the  forest  still  ranged  eastward  to  Virginia  and 
Pennsylvania.  The  wolf  and  the  cougar  were 
always  too  scarce  and  too  shy  to  yield  much  profit 
to  the  hunter.  The  black  bear  is  a  timid,  cowardly 
animal,  and  usually  a  vegetarian,  though  it  some- 
times preys  on  the  sheep,  hogs,  and  even  cattle  of 

31 


32  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

the  settler,  and  is  very  fond  of  raiding  his  com  and 
melons.  Its  meat  is  good  and  its  fur  often  valua- 
ble; and  in  its  chase  there  is  much  excitement, 
and  occasionally  a  slight  spice  of  danger,  just 
enough  to  render  it  attractive;  so  it  has  always 
been  eagerly  followed.  Yet  it  still  holds  its  own, 
though  in  greatly  diminished  numbers,  in  the  more 
thinly  settled  portions  of  the  country.  One  of  the 
standing  riddles  of  American  zoology  is  the  fact 
that  the  black  bear,  which  is  easier  killed  and  less 
prolific  than  the  wolf,  should  hold  its  own  in  the 
land  better  than  the  latter,  this  being  directly 
the  reverse  of  what  occurs  in  Europe,  where  the 
brown  bear  is  generally  exterminated  before  the 
wolf. 

In  a  few  wild  spots  in  the  East,  in  northern 
Maine  for  instance,  here  and  there  in  the  neigh- 
borhood of  the  upper  Great  Lakes,  in  the  east 
Tennessee  and  Kentucky  mountains  and  the 
swamps  of  Florida  and  Mississippi,  there  still  lin- 
gers an  occasional  representative  of  the  old  wilder- 
ness hunters.  These  men  live  in  log  cabins  in  the 
wilderness.  They  do  their  hunting  on  foot,  occa- 
sionally with  the  help  of  a  single  trailing  dog.  In 
Maine  they  are  as  apt  to  kill  moose  and  caribou  as 
bear  and  deer;  but  elsewhere  the  last  two,  with  an 
occasional  cougar  or  wolf,  are  the  beasts  of  chase 
which  they  follow.  Nowadays  as  these  old  hunters 
die  there  is  no  one  to  take  their  places,  though 


The  Black  Bear  33 

there  are  still  plenty  of  backwoods  settlers  in  all 
of  the  regions  named  who  do  a  great  deal  of  hunt- 
ing and  trapping.  Such  an  old  hunter  rarely 
makes  his  appearance  at  the  settlements  except  to 
dispose  of  his  peltry  and  hides  in  exchange  for 
cartridges  and  provisions,  and  he  leads  a  life  of 
such  lonely  isolation  as  to  insure  his  individual 
characteristics  developing  into  peculiarities.  Most 
of  the  wilder  districts  in  the  Eastern  States  still 
preserve  memories  of  some  such  old  hunter  who 
lived  his  long  life  alone,  waging  ceaseless  warfare 
on  the  vanishing  game,  whose  oddities,  as  well  as 
his  courage,  hardihood,  and  woodcraft,  are  laugh- 
ingly remembered  by  the  older  settlers,  and  who 
is  usually  best  known  as  having  killed  the  last 
wolf  or  bear  or  cougar  ever  seen  in  the  locality. 

Generally  the  weapon  mainly  relied  on  by  these 
old  himters  is  the  rifle ;  and  occasionally  some  old 
himter  will  be  found  even  to  this  day  who  uses  a 
muzzle-loader,  such  as  Kit  Carson  carried  in  the 
middle  of  the  century.  There  are  exceptions  to 
this  rule  of  the  rifle,  however.  In  the  years  after 
the  Civil  War  one  of  the  many  noted  hunters  of 
southwest  Virginia  and  east  Tennessee  was  Wilbur 
Waters,  sometimes  called  the  Hunter  of  White 
Top.  He  often  killed  black  bear  with  a  knife 
and  dogs.  He  spent  all  his  life  in  hunting  and 
was  very  successful,  killing  the  last  gang  of  wolves 
to  be  found  in  his  neighborhood;    and  he  slew 

VOL.  II. — 3. 


34  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

innumerable  bears,  with  no  worse  results  to  him- 
self than  an  occasional  bite  or  scratch. 

In  the  Southern  States  the  planters  living  in  the 
wilder  regions  have  always  been  in  the  habit  of 
following  the  black  bear  with  horse  and  hoimd, 
many  of  them  keeping  regular  packs  of  bear 
hounds.  Such  a  pack  includes  not  only  pure-bred 
hounds,  but  also  cross-bred  animals,  and  some 
sharp,  agile,  hard-biting  fierce  dogs  and  terriers. 
They  follow  the  bear  and  bring  him  to  bay,  but  do 
not  try  to  kill  him,  although  there  are  dogs  of  the 
big  fighting  breeds  which  can  readily  master  a 
black  bear  if  loosed  at  him  three  or  four  at  a  time ; 
but  the  dogs  of  these  southern  bear-hound  packs 
are  not  fitted  for  such  work,  and  if  they  try  to 
close  with  the  bear  he  is  certain  to  play  havoc 
with  them,  disembowelling  them  with  blows  of 
his  paws  or  seizing  them  in  his  arms  and  biting 
through  their  spines  or  legs.  The  riders  follow  the 
hounds  through  the  canebrakes,  and  also  try  to 
make  cut-offs  and  station  themselves  at  open  points 
where  they  think  the  bear  will  pass,  so  that  they 
may  get  a  shot  at  him.  The  weapons  used  are 
rifles,  shotguns,  and  occasionally  revolvers. 

Sometimes,  however,  the  hunter  uses  the  knife. 
General  Wade  Hampton,  who  has  probably  killed 
more  black  bears  than  any  other  man  living  in  the 
United  States,  frequently  used  the  knife,  slaying 
thirty  or  forty  with  this  weapon.     His  plan  was, 


The  Black  Bear  35 

when  he  found  that  the  dogs  had  the  bear  at  bay, 
to  walk  up  close  and  cheer  them  on.  They  would 
instantly  seize  the  bear  in  a  body,  and  he  would 
then  rush  in  and  stab  it  behind  the  shoulder, 
reaching  over  so  as  to  inflict  the  wound  on  the 
opposite  side  from  that  where  he  stood.  He  es- 
caped scathless  from  all  these  encounters  save  one, 
in  which  he  was  rather  severely  torn  in  the  fore- 
arm. Many  other  hunters  have  used  the  knife,  but 
perhaps  none  so  frequently  as  he;  for  he  was 
always  fond  of  steel,  as  witness  his  feats  with  the 
**  white  arm"  during  the  Civil  War. 

General  Hampton  always  hunted  with  large 
packs  of  hounds,  managed  sometimes  by  himself 
and  sometimes  by  his  negro  hunters.  He  occasion- 
ally took  out  forty  dogs  at  a  time.  He  fotmd  that 
all  his  dogs  together  could  not  kill  a  big  fat  bear, 
but  they  occasionally  killed  three-year-olds,  or 
lean  and  poor  bears.  During  the  course  of  his  life 
he  has  himself  killed,  or  been  in  at  the  death  of, 
five  hundred  bears,  at  least  two  thirds  of  them 
falling  by  his  own  hand.  In  the  years  just  before 
the  war  he  had  on  one  occasion,  in  Mississippi, 
killed  sixty-eight  bears  in  five  months.  Once  he 
killed  four  bears  in  a  day ;  at  another  time  three, 
and  frequently  two.  The  two  largest  bears  he 
himself  killed  weighed,  respectively,  408  and  410 
pounds.  They  were  both  shot  in  Mississippi.  But 
he  saw  at  least  one  bear  killed  which  was  much 


36  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

larger  than  either  of  these.  These  figures  were 
taken  down  at  the  time,  when  the  animals  were 
actually  weighed  on  the  scales.  Most  of  his  himting 
for  bear  was  done  in  northern  Mississippi,  where 
one  of  his  plantations  was  situated,  near  Greenville. 
During  the  half -century  that  he  hunted,  on  and 
off,  in  this  neighborhood,  he  knew  of  two  instances 
where  hunters  were  fatally  wounded  in  the  chase 
of  the  black  bear.  Both  of  the  men  were  inexpe- 
rienced ,  one  being  a  raftsman  who  came  down  the 
river,  and  the  other  a  man  from  Vicksburg.  He 
was  not  able  to  learn  the  particulars  in  the  last 
case,  but  the  raftsman  came  too  close  to  a  bear 
that  was  at  bay,  and  it  broke  through  the  dogs, 
rushed  at  and  overthrew  him,  then,  lying  on  him, 
it  bit  him  deeply  in  the  thigh,  through  the  fem- 
oral artery,  so  that  he  speedily  bled  to  death. 

But  a  black  bear  is  not  usually  a  formidable  op- 
ponent, and  though  he  will  sometimes  charge 
home  he  is  much  more  apt  to  bluster  and  bully 
than  actually  to  come  to  close  quarters.  I  myself 
have  but  once  seen  a  man  who  had  been  hurt  by 
one  of  these  bears.  This  was  an  Indian.  He  had 
come  on  the  beast  close  up  in  a  thick  wood,  and 
had  mortally  wounded  it  with  his  gun;  it  had 
then  closed  with  him,  knocking  the  gun  out  of  his 
hand,  so  that  he  was  forced  to  use  his  knife.  It 
charged  him  on  all  fours,  but  in  the  grapple,  when 
it  had  failed  to  throw  him  down,  it  raised  itself  on 


The  Black  Bear  37 

its  hind  legs,  clasping  him  across  the  shoulders 
with  its  fore  paws.  Apparently  it  had  no  intention 
of  hugging,  but  merely  sought  to  draw  him  within 
reach  of  his  jaws.  He  fought  desperately  against 
this,  using  the  knife  freely,  and  striving  to  keep  its 
head  back;  and  the  flow  of  blood  weakened  the 
animal,  so  that  it  finally  fell  exhausted  before 
being  able  dangerously  to  injure  him.  But  it  had 
bitten  his  left  arm  very  severely,  and  its  claws  had 
made  long  gashes  on  his  shoulders. 

Black  bears,  like  grislies,  vary  greatly  in  their 
modes  of  attack.  Sometimes  they  rush  in  and  bite ; 
and  again  they  strike  with  their  fore  paws.  Two 
of  my  cowboys  were  originally  from  Maine,  where 
I  knew  them  well.  There  they  were  fond  of  trap- 
ping bears,  and  caught  a  good  many.  The  huge 
steel  gins,  attached  by  chains  to  heavy  clogs,  pre- 
vented the  trapped  beasts  from  going  far;  and 
when  fotmd  they  were  always  tied  tight  round 
some  tree  or  bush,  and  usually  nearly  exhausted. 
The  men  killed  them  either  with  a  little  3  2 -calibre 
pistol  or  a  hatchet.  But  once  did  they  meet  with 
any  difficulty.  On  this  occasion  one  of  them  in- 
cautiously approached  a  captured  bear  to  knock 
it  on  the  head  with  his  hatchet,  but  the  animal 
managed  to  partially  untwist  itself,  and  with  its 
free  forearm  made  a  rapid  sweep  at  him;  he 
jumped  back  just  in  time,  the  bear's  claws  tearing 
his  clothes — after  which  he  shot  it.    Bears  are  shy 


3^  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

and  have  very  keen  noses ;  they  are  therefore  hard 
to  kill  by  fair  hunting,  living,  as  they  generally  do, 
in  dense  forests  or  thick  brush.  They  are  easy 
enough  to  trap,  however.  Thus,  these  two  men, 
though  they  trapped  so  many,  never  but  once 
killed  them  in  any  other  way.  On  this  occasion 
one  of  them,  in  the  winter,  foimd  in  a  great  hollow 
log  a  den  where  a  she  and  two  well-grown  cubs  had 
taken  up  their  abode,  and  shot  all  three  with  his 
rifle  as  they  burst  out. 

Where  they  are  much  hunted,  bear  become 
purely  nocturnal ;  but  in  the  wilder  forests  I  have 
seen  them  abroad  at  all  hours,  though  they  do  not 
much  relish  the  intense  heat  of  noon.  They  are 
rather  comical  animals  to  watch  feeding  and  going 
about  the  ordinary  business  of  their  lives.  Once  I 
spent  half  an  hour  lying  at  the  edge  of  a  wood  and 
looking  at  a  black  bear  some  three  hundred  yards 
off  across  an  open  glade.  It  was  in  good  stalking 
country,  but  the  wind  was  unfavorable,  and  I 
waited  for  it  to  shift — waited  too  long  as  it  proved, 
for  something  frightened  the  beast,  and  he  made 
off  before  I  could  get  a  shot  at  him.  When  I  first 
saw  him  he  was  shuffling  along  and  rooting  in  the 
ground,  so  that  he  looked  like  a  great  pig.  Then 
he  began  to  turn  over  the  stones  and  logs  to  himt 
for  insects,  small  reptiles,  and  the  like.  A  mod- 
erate-sized stone  he  would  turn  over  with  a  single 
clap  of  his  paw,  and  then  plunge  his  nose  down 


The  Black  Bear  39 

into  the  hollow  to  gobble  up  the  small  creatures 
beneath  while  still  dazed  by  the  light.  The  big 
logs  and  rocks  he  would  tug  and  worry  at  with 
both  paws ;  once,  over-exerting  his  clumsy  strength, 
he  lost  his  grip  and  rolled  clean  on  his  back.  Under 
some  of  the  logs  he  evidently  found  mice  and  chip- 
munks ;  then,  as  soon  as  the  log  was  overturned, 
he  would  be  seen  jumping  about  with  grotesque 
agility,  and  making  quick  dabs  here  and  there,  as 
the  little,  scurrying  rodent  turned  and  twisted, 
until  at  last  he  put  his  paw  on  it  and  scooped  it  up 
into  his  mouth.  Sometimes,  probably  when  he 
smelt  the  mice  imdemeath,  he  would  cautiously 
turn  the  log  over  with  one  paw,  holding  the  other 
lifted  and  ready  to  strike.  Now  and  then  he 
would  halt  and  sniff  the  air  in  every  direction,  and 
it  was  after  one  of  these  halts  that  he  suddenly 
shuffled  off  into  the  woods. 

Black  bear  generally  feed  on  berries,  nuts,  in- 
sects, carrion,  and  the  like;  but  at  times  they 
take  to  killing  very  large  animals.  In  fact,  they 
are  curiously  irregular  in  their  food.  They  will  kill 
deer  if  they  can  get  at  them;  but  generally  the 
deer  are  too  quick.  Sheep  and  hogs  are  their 
favorite  prey,  especially  the  latter,  for  bears  seem 
to  have  a  special  relish  for  pork.  Twice  I  have 
known  a  black  bear  kill  cattle.  Once  the  victim 
was  a  bull  which  had  got  mired,  and  which  the 
bear  deliberately  proceeded  to  eat  alive,  heedless 


40  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

of  the  bellows  of  the  unfortunate  beast.  On  the 
other  occasion,  a  cow  was  surprised  and  slain 
among  some  bushes  at  the  edge  of  a  remote  pas- 
ture. In  the  spring,  soon  after  the  long  winter 
sleep,  they  are  very  hungry,  and  are  especially  apt 
to  attack  large  beasts  at  this  time ;  although  dur- 
ing the  very  first  days  of  their  appearance,  when 
they  are  just  breaking  their  fast,  they  eat  rather 
sparingly,  and  by  preference  the  tender  shoots  of 
green  grass  and  other  herbs,  or  frogs  and  crayfish ; 
it  is  not  for  a  week  or  two  that  they  seem  to  be 
overcome  by  lean,  ravenous  hunger.  They  will 
even  attack  and  master  that  formidable  fighter 
the  moose,  springing  at  it  from  an  ambush  as  it 
passes — for  a  bull  moose  would  surely  be  an  over- 
match for  one  of  them  if  fronted  fairly  in  the  open. 
An  old  hunter,  whom  I  could  trust,  told  me  that 
he  had  seen  in  the  snow  in  early  spring  the  place 
where  a  bear  had  sprung  at  two  moose,  which  were 
trotting  together;  he  missed  his  spring,  and  the 
moose  got  off,  their  strides  after  they  settled  down 
into  their  pace  being  tremendous,  and  showing  how 
thoroughly  they  were  frightened .  Another  time  he 
saw  a  bear  chase  a  moose  into  a  lake,  where  it  waded 
out  a  little  distance,  and  then  turned  to  bay,  bid- 
ding defiance  to  his  pursuer,  the  latter  not  daring  to 
approach  in  the  water.  I  have  been  told — but  can- 
not vouch  for  it — that  instances  have  been  known 
where  the  bear,  maddened  by  hunger,  has  gone  in 


The  Black  Bear  41 

on  a  moose  thus  standing  at  bay,  only  to  be  beaten 
down  under  the  water  by  the  terrible  fore  hoofs  of 
the  quarry,  and  to  yield  its  life  in  the  contest.  A 
lumberman  told  me  that  he  once  saw  a  moose, 
evidently  much  startled,  trot  through  a  swamp, 
and  immediately  afterwards  a  bear  came  up,  follow- 
ing the  tracks.  He  almost  ran  into  the  man,  and 
was  evidently  not  in  a  good  temper,  for  he  growled 
and  blustered,  and  two  or  three  times  made  feints 
of  charging,  before  he  finally  concluded  to  go  off. 

Bears  will  occasionally  visit  hunters'  or  lumber- 
men's camps,  in  the  absence  of  the  owners,  and 
play  sad  havoc  with  all  that  therein  is,  devouring 
everything  eatable,  especially  if  sweet,  and  tram- 
pling into  a  dirty  mess  whatever  they  do  not  eat. 
The  black  bear  does  not  average  more  than  a  third 
the  size  of  the  grisly;  but,  like  all  its  kind,  it 
varies  greatly  in  weight.  The  largest  I  myself  ever 
saw  weighed  was  in  Maine,  and  tipped  the  scale  at 
346  pounds;  but  I  have  a  perfectly  authentic  rec- 
ord of  one  in  Maine  that  weighed  397,  and  my 
friend,  Dr.  Hart  Merriam,  tells  me  that  he  has 
seen  several  in  the  Adirondacks  that  when  killed 
weighed  about  350. 

I  have  myself  shot  but  one  or  two  black  bears, 
and  these  were  obtained  imder  circumstances  of  no 
special  interest,  as  I  merely  stumbled  on  them 
while  after  other  game,  and  killed  them  before 
they  had  a  chance  either  to  run  or  show  fight. 


CHAPTER  III 

OLD    EPHRAIM,    THE    GRISLY    BEAR 

THE  king  of  the  game  beasts  of  temperate 
North  America,  because  the  most  danger- 
ous to  the  hunter,  is  the  grisly  bear ;  known 
to  the  few  remaining  old-time  trappers  of  the 
Rockies  and  the  great  plains,  sometimes  as  "Old 
Ephraim"  and  sometimes  as  ** Moccasin  Joe" — 
the  last  in  allusion  to  his  queer,  half -human  foot- 
prints, which  look  as  if  made  by  some  misshapen 
giant,  walking  in  moccasins. 

Bear  vary  greatly  in  size  and  color,  no  less  than 
in  temper  and  habits.  Old  hunters  speak  much  of 
them  in  their  endless  talks  over  the  camp-fires  and 
in  the  snow-bound  winter  huts.  They  insist  on 
many  species ;  not  merely  the  black  and  the  grisly, 
but  the  brown,  the  cinnamon,  the  gray,  the  silver- 
tip,  and  others  with  names  known  only  in  certain 
localities,  such  as  the  range  bear,  the  roach-back, 
and  the  smut-face.  But,  in  spite  of  popular  opin- 
ion to  the  contrary,  most  old  hunters  are  very 
untrustworthy  in  dealing  with  points  of  natural  his- 
tory. They  usually  know  only  so  much  about  any 
given  game  animal  as  will  enable  them  to  kill  it. 

42 


Old  Ephraim,  the  Grisly  Bear      43 

They  study  its  habits  solely  with  this  end  in  view ; 
and  once  slain  they  only  examine  it  to  see  about 
its  condition  and  fur.  With  rare  exceptions  they 
are  quite  incapable  of  passing  judgment  upon 
questions  of  specific  identity  or  difference.  When 
questioned,  they  not  only  advance  perfectly  im- 
possible theories  and  facts  in  support  of  their 
views,  but  they  rarely  even  agree  as  to  the  views 
themselves.  One  himter  will  assert  that  the  true 
grisly  is  only  found  in  California,  heedless  of  the 
fact  that  the  name  was  first  used  by  Lewis  and 
Clarke  as  one  of  the  titles  they  applied  to  the  large 
bears  of  the  plains  country  round  the  Upper  Mis- 
souri, a  quarter  of  a  century  before  the  California 
grisly  was  known  to  fame.  Another  hunter  will 
call  any  big  brindled  bear  a  grisly  no  matter  where 
it  is  f  otmd ;  and  he  and  his  companions  will  dispute 
by  the  hour  as  to  whether  a  bear  of  large,  but  not 
extreme,  size  is  a  grisly  or  a  silver-tip.  In  Oregon 
the  cinnamon  bear  is  a  phase  of  the  small  black 
bear;  in  Montana  it  is  the  plains  variety  of  the 
large  mountain  silver-tip.  I  have  myself  seen  the 
skins  of  two  bears  killed  on  the  upper  waters  of 
Tongue  River;  one  was  that  of  a  male,  one  of  a 
female,  and  they  had  evidently  just  mated;  yet 
one  was  distinctly  a  ''silver-tip"  and  the  other  a 
' '  cinnamon . ' '  The  skin  of  one  very  big  bear  which 
I  killed  in  the  Bighorn  has  proved  a  standing  puz- 
zle to  almost  all  the  old  hunters  to  whom  I  have 


44  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

showed  it ;  rarely  do  any  two  of  them  agree  as  to 
whether  it  is  a  grisly,  a  silver-tip,  a  cinnamon,  or  a 
**  smut-face."  Any  bear  with  imusually  long  hair 
on  the  spine  and  shoulders,  especially  if  killed  in 
the  spring,  when  the  fur  is  shaggy,  is  forthwith 
dubbed  a  *' roach-back."  The  average  sporting 
writer  moreover  joins  with  the  more  imaginative 
members  of  the  ''old  hunter"  variety  in  ascribing 
wildly  various  traits  to  these  different  bears.  One 
comments  on  the  superior  prowess  of  the  roach- 
back;  the  explanation  being  that  a  bear  in  early 
spring  is  apt  to  be  ravenous  from  hunger.  The 
next  insists  that  the  California  grisly  is  the  only 
really  dangerous  bear;  while  another  stoutly 
maintains  that  it  does  not  compare  in  ferocity 
with  what  he  calls  the  "  smaller"  silver-tip  or  cin- 
namon. And  so  on,  and  so  on,  without  end.  All  of 
which  is  mere  nonsense. 

Nevertheless,  it  is  no  easy  task  to  determine 
how  many  species  or  varieties  of  bear  actually  do 
exist  in  the  United  States,  and  I  cannot  even  say 
without  doubt  that  a  very  large  set  of  skins  and 
skulls  would  not  show  a  nearly  complete  inter- 
gradation  between  the  most  widely  separated  in- 
dividuals. However,  there  are  certainly  two  very 
distinct  types,  which  differ  almost  as  widely  from 
each  other  as  a  wapiti  does  from  a  mule  deer,  and 
which  exist  in  the  same  localities  in  most  heavily 
timbered  portions  of  the  Rockies.       One  is  the 


Old  Ephraim,  the  Grisly  Bear      45 

small  black  bear,  a  bear  which  will  average  about 
two  hiindred  pounds  weight,  with  fine,  glossy, 
black  fur,  and  the  fore  claws  but  little  longer,  than 
the  hinder  ones;  in  fact,  the  hairs  of  the  fore  paw 
often  reach  to  their  tips.  This  bear  is  a  tree- 
climber.  It  is  the  only  kind  foimd  east  of  the 
great  plains,  and  it  is  also  plentiful  in  the  forest- 
clad  portions  of  the  Rockies,  being  common  in 
most  heavily  timbered  tracts  throughout  the 
United  States.  The  other  is  the  grisly,  which 
weighs  three  or  four  times  as  much  as  the  black, 
and  has  a  pelt  of  coarse  hair,  which  is  in  color  gra}^ 
grizzled,  or  brown  of  various  shades.  It  is  not  a 
tree-climber,  and  the  fore  claws  are  very  long, 
much  longer  than  the  hinder  ones.  It  is  foimd 
from  the  great  plains  west  of  the  Mississippi  to  the 
Pacific  coast.  This  bear  inhabits  indifferently 
lowland  and  mountain ;  the  deep  woods,  and  the 
barren  plains  where  the  only  cover  is  the  stimted 
growth  fringing  the  streams.  These  two  types  are 
very  distinct  in  every  way,  and  their  differences 
are  not  at  all  dependent  upon  mere  geographical 
considerations;  for  they  are  often  found  in  the 
same  district.  Thus  I  found  them  both  in  the 
Bighorn  Moimtains,  each  type  being  in  extreme 
form,  while  the  specimens  I  shot  showed  no  trace 
of  intergradation.  The  huge  grizzled,  long-clawed 
beast,  and  its  little  glossy-coated,  short-clawed, 
tree-climbing  brother  roamed  over  exactly  the 


46  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

same  country  in  those  mountains ;  but  they  were 
as  distinct  in  habits,  and  mixed  as  Httle  together, 
as  moose  and  caribou. 

On  the  other  hand,  when  a  sufficient  number  of 
bears  from  widely  separated  regions  are  examined, 
the  various  distinguishing  marks  are  fotind  to  be 
inconstant,  and  to  show  a  tendency — exactly  how 
strong  I  cannot  say — to  fade  into  one  another. 
The  differentiation  of  the  two  species  seems  to  be 
as  yet  scarcely  completed ;  there  are  more  or  less 
imperfectly  connecting  links,  and  as  regards  the 
grisly  it  almost  seems  as  if  the  specific  characters 
were  still  imstable.  In  the  far  Northwest,  in  the 
basin  of  the  Columbia,  the  ** black"  bear  is  as 
often  brown  as  any  other  color;  and  I  have  seen 
the  skins  of  two  cubs,  one  black  and  one  brown, 
which  were  shot  when  following  the  same  dam. 
When  these  brown  bears  have  coarser  hair  than 
usual  their  skins  are  with  difficulty  to  be  distin- 
guished from  those  of  certain  varieties  of  the  grisly. 
Moreover,  all  bears  vary  greatly  in  size;  and  I 
have  seen  the  bodies  of  very  large  black  or  brown 
bears  with  short  fore  claws  which  were  fully  as 
heavy  as,  or  perhaps  heavier  than,  some  small  but 
full-grown  grislies  with  long  fore  claws.  These 
very  large  bears  with  short  claws  are  very  reluc- 
tant to  climb  a  tree;  and  are  almost  as  clumsy 
about  it  as  a  young  grisly.  Among  the  grislies  the 
fur  varies  much  in  color  and  texture  even  among 


Old  Ephraim,  the  Grisly  Bear      47 

bears  of  the  same  locality ;  it  is  of  course  richest  in 
the  deep  forest,  while  the  bears  of  the  dry  plains 
and  mountains  are  of  a  lighter,  more  washed- 
out  hue. 

A  full-grown  grisly  will  usually  weigh  from  five 
to  seven  hundred  pounds ;  but  exceptional  individ- 
uals imdoubtedly  reach  more  than  twelve  hun- 
dredweight. The  California  bears  are  said  to  be 
much  the  largest.  This  I  think  is  so,  but  I  cannot 
say  it  with  certainty — at  any  rate,  I  have  examined 
several  skins  of  full-grown  Califomian  bears  which 
were  no  larger  than  those  of  many  I  have  seen 
from  the  northern  Rockies.  The  Alaskan  bears, 
particularly  those  of  the  peninsula,  are  even  bigger 
beasts ;  the  skin  of  one  which  I  saw  in  the  posses- 
sion of  Mr.  Webster,  the  taxidermist,  was  a  good 
deal  larger  than  the  average  polar-bear  skin ;  and 
the  animal  when  alive,  if  in  good  condition,  could 
hardly  have  weighed  less  than  1400  pounds.' 
Bears  vary  wonderfully  in  weight,  even  to  the  ex- 
tent of  becoming  half  as  heavy  again,  according 
as  they  are  fat  or  lean;  in  this  respect  they  are 
more  like  hogs  than  like  any  other  animals. 

The  grisly  is  now  chiefly  a  beast  of  the  high  hills 
and  heavy  timber ;  but  this  is  merely  because  he 
has  learned  that  he  must  rely  on  cover  to  guard 

I  Both  this  huge  Alaskan  bear  and  the  entirely  distinct 
bear  of  the  barren  grounds  differ  widely  from  the  true 
grisly,  at  least  in  their  extreme  forms. 


48  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

him  from  man,  and  has  forsaken  the  open  ground 
accordingly.  In  old  days,  and  in  one  or  two  very 
out-of-the-way  places  almost  to  the  present  time, 
he  wandered  at  will  over  the  plains.  It  is  only  the 
wariness  bom  of  fear  which  nowadays  causes  him 
to  cling  to  the  thick  brush  of  the  large  river 
bottoms  throughout  the  plains  country.  When 
there  were  no  rifle-bearing  hunters  in  the  land,  to 
harass  him  and  make  him  afraid,  he  roved  hither 
and  thither  at  will,  in  burly  self-confidence.  Then 
he  cared  little  for  cover,  unless  as  a  weather-break, 
or  because  it  happened  to  contain  food  he  liked.  If 
the  humor  seized  him  he  would  roam  for  days  over 
the  rolling  or  broken  prairie,  searching  for  roots, 
digging  up  gophers,  or  perhaps  following  the  great 
buffalo  herds,  either  to  prey  on  some  unwary  strag- 
gler which  he  was  able  to  catch  at  a  disadvantage 
in  a  washout,  or  else  to  feast  on  the  carcasses  of 
those  which  died  by  accident.  Old  hunters,  sur- 
vivors of  the  long- vanished  ages  when  the  vast 
herds  thronged  the  high  plains  and  were  followed 
by  the  wild  red  tribes,  and  by  bands  of  whites  who 
were  scarcely  less  savage,  have  told  me  that  they 
often  met  bears  under  such  circumstances;  and 
these  bears  were  accustomed  to  sleep  in  a  patch  of 
rank  sage  bush,  in  the  niche  of  a  washout,  or  imder 
the  lee  of  a  boulder,  seeking  their  food  abroad  even 
in  full  daylight.  The  bears  of  the  Upper  Missouri 
Basin — ^which  were  so  light  in  color  that  the  early 


Old  Ephraim,  the  Grisly  Bear      49 

explorers  often  alluded  to  them  as  gray  or  even  as 
"white" — were  particularly  given  to  this  life  in 
the  open.  To  this  day  that  close  kinsman  of  the 
grisly  known  as  the  bear  of  the  barren  grounds 
continues  to  lead  this  same  kind  of  life,  in  the  far 
North.  My  friend  Mr.  Rockhill,  of  Maryland,  who 
was  the  first  white  man  to  explore  eastern  Tibet, 
describes  the  large,  grisly-like  bear  of  those  deso- 
late uplands  as  having  similar  habits. 

However,  the  grisly  is  a  shrewd  beast,  and  shows 
the  usual  bear-like  capacity  for  adapting  himself 
to  changed  conditions.  He  has  in  most  places  be- 
come a  cover-haimting  animal,  sly  in  his  ways, 
wary  to  a  degree,  and  clinging  to  the  shelter  of  the 
deepest  forests  in  the  moimtains  and  of  the  most 
tangled  thickets  in  the  plains.  Hence  he  has  held 
his  own  far  better  than  such  game  as  the  bison  and 
elk.  He  is  much  less  common  than  formerly,  but 
he  is  still  to  be  found  throughout  most  of  his 
former  range;  save  of  course  in  the  immediate 
neighborhood  of  the  large  towns. 

In  most  places  the  grisly  hibernates,  or  as 
old  hunters  say  ''holes  up,"  during  the  cold  sea- 
son, precisely  as  does  the  black  bear;  but,  as  with 
the  latter  species,  those  animals  which  live  far- 
thest south  spend  the  whole  year  abroad  in  mild 
seasons.  The  grisly  rarely  chooses  that  favorite 
den  of  his  little  black  brother,  a  hollow  tree  or 
log,  for  his  winter  sleep,  seeking  or  making  some 

VOL.    II.— 4. 


50  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

cavernous  hole  in  the  ground  instead.  The  hole 
is  sometimes  in  a  slight  hillock  in  a  river  bottom, 
but  more  often  on  a  hillside,  and  may  be  either 
shallow  or  deep.  In  the  mountains  it  is  generally 
a  natural  cave  in  the  rock,  but  among  the  foothills 
and  on  the  plains  the  bear  usually  has  to  take 
some  hollow  or  opening,  and  then  fashion  it  into 
a  burrow  to  his  liking  with  his  big  digging  claws. 

Before  the  cold  weather  sets  in  the  bear  begins 
to  grow  restless,  and  to  roam  about  seeking  for  a 
good  place  in  which  to  hole  up.  One  will  often 
try  and  abandon  several  caves  or  partially  dug- 
out burrows  in  succession  before  finding  a  place 
to  its  taste.  It  always  endeavors  to  choose  a 
spot  where  there  is  little  chance  of  discovery  or 
molestation,  taking  great  care  to  avoid  leaving 
too  evident  trace  of  its  work.  Hence  it  is  not 
often  that  the  dens  are  found. 

Once  in  its  den  the  bear  passes  the  cold  months 
in  lethargic  sleep;  yet,  in  all  but  the  coldest 
weather,  and  sometimes  even  then,  its  slumber 
is  but  slight,  and  if  disturbed  it  will  promptly 
leave  its  den,  prepared  for  fight  or  flight  as 
the  occasion  may  require.  Many  times  when  a 
hunter  has  stumbled  on  the  winter  resting-place 
of  a  bear  and  has  left  it,  as  he  thought,  without 
his  presence  being  discovered,  he  has  returned 
only  to  find  that  the  crafty  old  fellow  was  aware 
of  the  danger  all  the  time,  and  sneaked  off  as 


Old  Ephraim,  the  Grisly  Bear       51 

soon  as  the  coast  was  clear.  But  in  very  cold 
weather  hibernating  bears  can  hardly  be  wakened 
from  their  torpid  lethargy. 

The  length  of  time  a  bear  stays  in  its  den  de- 
pends of  course  upon  the  severity  of  the  season 
and  the  latitude  and  altitude  of  the  country.  In 
the  northernmost  and  coldest  regions  all  the  bears 
hole  up,  and  spend  half  the  year  in  a  state  of 
lethargy;  whereas  in  the  south  only  the  shes 
with  young  and  the  fat  he-bears  retire  for  the 
sleep,  and  these  but  for  a  few  weeks,  and  only 
if  the  season  is  severe. 

When  the  bear  first  leaves  its  den  the  fur  is  in 
very  fine  order,  but  it  speedily  becomes  thin  and 
poor,  and  does  not  recover  its  condition  until  the 
fall.  Sometimes  the  bear  does  not  betray  any 
great  hunger  for  a  few  days  after  its  appear- 
ance; but  in  a  short  while  it  becomes  ravenous. 
During  the  early  spring,  when  the  woods  are  still 
entirely  barren  and  lifeless,  while  the  snow  yet 
lies  in  deep  drifts,  the  lean,  himgry  brute,  both 
maddened  and  weakened  by  long  fasting,  is  more 
of  a  flesh-eater  than  at  any  other  time.  It  is  at 
this  period  that  it  is  most  apt  to  turn  true  beast 
of  prey,  and  show  its  prowess  either  at  the  ex- 
pense of  the  wild  game,  or  of  the  flocks  of  the 
settler  and  the  herds  of  the  ranchman.  Bears 
are  very  capricious  in  this  respect,  however. 
Some   are   confirmed    game-    and   cattle-killers; 


52  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

others  are  not;  while  yet  others  either  are  or 
are  not,  accordingly  as  the  freak  seizes  them,  and 
their  ravages  vary  almost  unaccountably,  both 
with  the  season  and  the  locality. 

Throughout  1889,  for  instance,  no  cattle,  so 
far  as  I  heard,  were  killed  by  bears  anywhere 
near  my  range  on  the  Little  Missouri  in  western 
Dakota;  yet  I  happened  to  know  that  during 
that  same  season  the  ravages  of  the  bears  among 
the  herds  of  the  cowmen  in  the  Big  Hole  Basin, 
in  western  Montana,  were  very  destructive. 

In  the  spring  and  early  summer  of  1888,  the 
bears  killed  no  cattle  near  my  ranch ;  but  in  the 
late  summer  and  early  fall  of  that  year  a  big  bear, 
which  we  well  knew  by  its  tracks,  suddenly  took 
to  cattle-killing.  This  was  a  brute  which  had  its 
headquarters  on  some  very  large  brush  bottoms 
a  dozen  miles  below  my  ranch-house,  and  which 
ranged  to  and  fro  across  the  broken  country 
flanking  the  river  on  each  side.  It  began  just 
before  berry-time,  but  continued  its  career  of 
destruction  long  after  the  wild  plums  and  even 
buffalo  berries  had  ripened.  I  think  that  what 
started  it  was  a  feast  on  a  cow  which  had  mired 
and  died  in  the  bed  of  the  creek ;  at  least,  it  was 
not  until  after  we  found  that  it  had  been  feeding 
at  the  carcass  and  had  eaten  every  scrap,  that  we 
discovered  traces  of  its  ravages  among  the  live 
stock.     It  seemed  to  attack  the  animals  wholly 


Old  Ephraim,  the  Grisly  Bear       53 

regardless  of  their  size  and  strength ;  its  victims 
including  a  large  bull  and  a  beef  steer,  as  well  as 
cows,  yearlings,  and  gaunt,  weak  trail  "dough- 
gies,"  which  had  been  brought  in  very  late  by  a 
Texas  cow-outfit — for  that  year  several  herds 
were  driven  up  from  the  overstocked,  eaten-out, 
and  drought -stricken  ranges  of  the  far  south. 
Judging  from  the  signs,  the  crafty  old  grisly,  as 
cimning  as  he  was  ferocious,  usually  lay  in  wait 
for  the  cattle  when  they  came  down  to  water, 
choosing  some  thicket  of  dense  underbrush  and 
twisted  cottonwoods  through  which  they  had  to 
pass  before  reaching  the  sand  banks  on  the  river's 
brink.  Sometimes  he  pounced  on  them  as  they 
fed  through  the  thick,  low  cover  of  the  bottoms, 
where  an  assailant  could  either  lie  in  ambush  by 
one  of  the  numerous  cattle  trails,  or  else,  creep 
unobserved  towards  some  browsing  beast.  When 
within  a  few  feet  a  quick  rush  carried  him  fairly 
on  the  terrified  quarry ;  and  though  but  a  clumsy 
animal  compared  to  the  great  cats,  the  grisly  is 
far  quicker  than  one  would  imagine  from  view- 
ing his  ordinary  lumbering  gait.  In  one  or  two 
instances  the  bear  had  apparently  grappled  with 
his  victim  by  seizing  it  near  the  loins  and  strik- 
ing a  disabling  blow  over  the  small  of  the  back; 
in  at  least  one  instance  he  had  jumped  on  the 
animal's  head,  grasping  it  with  his  fore  paws, 
while  with  his  fangs  he  tore  open  the  throat  or 


54  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

cratinched  the  neck  bone.  Some  of  his  victims 
were  slain  far  from  the  river,  in  winding,  brushy 
coulies  of  the  Bad  Lands,  where  the  broken  nature 
of  the  ground  rendered  stalking  easy.  Several 
of  the  ranchmen,  angered  at  their  losses,  hunted 
their  foe  eagerly,  but  always  with  ill  success ;  until 
one  of  them  put  poison  in  a  carcass,  and  thus  at 
last,  in  ignoble  fashion,  slew  the  cattle-killer. 

Mr.  Clarence  King  informs  me  that  he  was  once 
eye-witness  to  a  bear's  killing  a  steer,  in  Cali- 
fornia. The  steer  was  in  a  small  pasture,  and 
the  bear  climbed  over,  partly  breaking  down,  the 
rails  which  barred  the  gateway.  The  steer  started 
to  run,  but  the  grisly  overtook  it  in  four  or  five 
boimds,  and  struck  it  a  tremendous  blow  on  the 
flank  with  one  paw,  knocking  several  ribs  clear 
away  from  the  spine,  and  killing  the  animal  out- 
right by  the  shock. 

Horses  no  less  than  horned  cattle  at  times  fall 
victims  to  this  great  bear,  which  usually  springs 
on  them  from  the  edge  of  a  clearing  as  they  graze 
in  some  mountain  pasture,  or  among  the  foot- 
hills ;  and  there  is  no  other  animal  of  which  horses 
seem  so  much  afraid.  Generally  the  bear,  whether 
successful  or  unsuccessful  in  its  raids  on  cattle  and 
horses,  comes  off  unscathed  from  the  struggle; 
but  this  is  not  always  the  case,  and  it  has  much 
respect  for  the  hoofs  or  horns  of  its  should-be 
prey.     Some  horses  do  not  seem  to  know  how  to 


Old  Ephraim,  the  Grisly  Bear       55 

fight  at  all ;  but  others  are  both  quick  and  vicious, 
and  prove  themselves  very  formidable  foes,  lash- 
ing out  behind,  and  striking  with  their  fore  hoofs. 
I  have  elsewhere  given  an  instance  of  a  stallion 
which  beat  off  a  bear,  breaking  its  jaw. 

Quite  near  my  ranch,  once,  a  cowboy  in  my 
employ  fotmd  unmistakable  evidence  of  the  dis- 
comfiture of  a  bear  by  a  long-horned  range  cow. 
It  was  in  the  early  spring,  and  the  cow,  with  her 
new-bom  calf,  was  in  a  brush-bordered  valley. 
The  footprints  in  the  damp  soil  were  very  plain, 
and  showed  all  that  had  happened.  The  bear 
had  evidently  come  out  of  the  bushes  with  a 
rush,  probably  bent  merely  on  seizing  the  calf; 
and  had  slowed  up  when  the  cow  instead  of  fly- 
ing faced  him.  He  had  then  begun  to  walk  round 
his  expected  dinner  in  a  circle,  the  cow  fronting 
him  and  moving  nervously  back  and  forth,  so 
that  her  sharp  hoofs  cut  and  trampled  the  ground. 
Finally  she  had  charged  savagely;  whereupon 
the  bear  had  bolted;  and,  whether  frightened  at 
the  charge,  or  at  the  approach  of  some  one,  he 
had  not  returned. 

The  grisly  is  even  fonder  of  sheep  and  pigs 
than  is  its  smaller  black  brother.  Lurking  round 
the  settler's  house  imtil  after  nightfall,  it  will 
vault  into  the  fold  or  sty,  grasp  a  helpless,  bleat- 
ing fleece-bearer,  or  a  shrieking,  struggling  mem- 
ber of  the  bristly  brotherhood,  and  bundle  it  out 


5^  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

over  the  fence  to  its  death.  In  carrying  its  prey 
a  bear  sometimes  holds  the  body  in  its  teeth, 
walking  along  on  all  fours  and  dragging  it  as  a 
wolf  does.  Sometimes,  however,  it  seizes  an  ani- 
mal in  its  forearms  or  in  one  of  them,  and  walks 
awkwardly  on  three  legs  or  two,  adopting  this 
method  in  lifting  and  pushing  the  body  over 
rocks  and  down  timber. 

When  a  grisly  can  get  at  domestic  animals  it 
rarely  seeks  to  molest  game,  the  former  being 
far  less  wary  and  more  helpless.  Its  heaviness 
and  clumsiness  do  not  fit  it  well  for  a  life  of 
rapine  against  shy  woodland  creatures.  Its  vast 
strength  and  determined  temper,  however,  more 
than  make  amends  for  lack  of  agility  in  the 
actual  struggle  with  the  stricken  prey;  its  diffi- 
culty lies  in  seizing,  not  in  killing,  the  game. 
Hence,  when  a  grisly  does  take  to  game-killing, 
it  is  likely  to  attack  bison,  moose,  and  elk;  it  is 
rarely  able  to  catch  deer,  still  less  sheep  or  ante- 
lope. In  fact,  these  smaller  game  animals  often 
show  but  little  dread  of  its  neighborhood,  and, 
though  careful  not  to  let  it  come  too  near,  go 
on  grazing  when  a  bear  is  in  full  sight.  White- 
tail  deer  are  frequently  foimd  at  home  in  the 
same  thicket  in  which  a  bear  has  its  den,  while 
they  immediately  desert  the  temporary  abiding- 
place  of  a  wolf  or  cougar.  Nevertheless,  they 
sometimes  presume  too  much  on  this  confidence. 


Old  Ephraim,  the  Grisly  Bear       57 

A  couple  of  years  before  the  occurrence  of  the 
feats  of  cattle-killing  mentioned  above  as  hap- 
pening near  my  ranch,  either  the  same  bear  that 
figured  in  them,  or  another  of  similar  tastes,  took 
to  game-hunting.  The  beast  lived  in  the  same 
succession  of  huge  thickets  which  cover  for  two 
or  three  miles  the  river  bottoms  and  the  mouths 
of  the  inflowing  creeks;  and  he  suddenly  made 
a  raid  on  the  whitetail  deer,  which  were  plentiful 
in  the  dense  cover.  The  shaggy,  clumsy  monster 
was  cunning  enough  to  kill  several  of  these  know- 
ing creatures.  The  exact  course  of  procedure  I 
never  could  find  out;  but  apparently  the  bear 
laid  in  wait  beside  the  game  trails,  along  which 
the  deer  wandered. 

In  the  old  days  when  the  innumerable  bison 
grazed  free  on  the  prairie,  the  grisly  sometimes 
harassed  their  bands  as  it  now  does  the  herds 
of  the  ranchman.  The  bison  was  the  most  easily 
approached  of  all  game,  and  the  great  bear  could 
often  get  near  some  outlying  straggler,  in  its  quest 
after  stray  cows,  yearlings,  or  calves.  In  default 
of  a  favorable  chance  to  make  a  prey  of  one  of 
these  weaker  members  of  the  herds,  it  did  not 
hesitate  to  attack  the  mighty  bulls  themselves; 
and  perhaps  the  grandest  sight  which  it  was  ever 
the  good  fortune  of  the  early  hunters  to  witness 
was  one  of  these  rare  battles  between  a  hungry 
grisly  and  a  powerful   buffalo  bull.     Nowadays, 


58  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

however,  the  few  last  survivors  of  the  bison  are 
vanishing  even  from  the  inaccessible  mountain 
fastnesses  in  which  they  sought  a  final  refuge 
from  their  destroyers. 

At  present  the  wapiti  is  of  all  wild  game  that 
which  is  most  likely  to  fall  a  victim  to  the  grisly, 
when  the  big  bear  is  in  the  mood  to  turn  hunter. 
Wapiti  are  found  in  the  same  places  as  the  grisly, 
and  in  some  spots  they  are  yet  very  plentiful; 
they  are  less  shy  and  active  than  deer,  while  not 
powerful  enough  to  beat  off  so  ponderous  a  foe; 
and  they  live  in  cover  where  there  is  always  a 
good  chance  either  to  stalk  or  to  stumble  on 
them.  At  almost  any  season  bear  will  come  and 
feast  on  an  elk  carcass;  and  if  the  food  supply 
runs  short,  in  early  spring,  or  in  a  fall  when  the 
berry  crop  fails,  they  sometimes  have  to  do  their 
own  killing.  Twice  I  have  come  across  the  re- 
mains of  elk,  which  had  seemingly  been  slain 
and  devoured  by  bears.  I  have  never  heard  of 
elk  making  a  fight  against  a  bear;  yet,  at  close 
quarters  and  at  bay,  a  bull  elk  in  the  rutting  sea- 
son is  an  ugly  foe. 

A  bull  moose  is  even  more  formidable,  being 
able  to  strike  the  most  lightning-like  blows  with 
his  terrible  fore  feet,  his  true  weapons  of  defence. 
I  doubt  if  any  beast  of  prey  would  rush  in  on 
one  of  these  woodland  giants,  when  his  horns 
were  grown,  and  if  he  was  on  his  guard  and  bent 


Old  Ephraim,  the  Grisly  Bear       59 

on  fight.  Nevertheless,  the  moose  sometimes  fall 
victims  to  the  uncouth  prowess  of  the  grisly,  in 
the  thick  wet  forests  of  the  high  northern  Rockies, 
where  both  beasts  dwell.  An  old  hunter  who  a 
dozen  years  ago  wintered  at  Jackson  Lake,  in 
northwestern  Wyoming,  told  me  that  when  the 
snows  got  deep  on  the  mountains  the  moose  came 
down  and  took  up  their  abode  near  the  lake,  on 
its  western  side.  Nothing  molested  them  during 
the  winter.  Early  in  the  spring  a  grisly  came 
out  of  its  den,  and  he  found  its  tracks  in  many 
places,  as  it  roamed  restlessly  about,  evidently 
very  hungry.  Finding  little  to  eat  in  the  bleak, 
snow-drifted  w^oods,  it  soon  began  to  depredate 
on  the  moose,  and  killed  two  or  three,  generally 
by  lying  in  wait  and  dashing  out  on  them  as 
they  passed  near  its  lurking-place.  Even  the 
bulls  were  at  that  season  weak,  and  of  course 
hornless,  with  small  desire  to  fight;  and  in  each 
case  the  rush  of  the  great  bear — doubtless  made 
with  the  ferocity  and  speed  which  so  often  belie 
the  seeming  awkwardness  of  the  animal  —  bore 
down  the  startled  victim,  taken  utterly  unawares 
before  it  had  a  chance  to  defend  itself.  In  one 
case  the  bear  had  missed  its  spring;  the  moose 
going  off,  for  a  few  rods,  with  huge  jumps, 
and  then  settling  down  into  its  characteristic 
trot.  The  old  hunter  who  followed  the  tracks 
said  he  would  never  have  deemed  it  possible  for 


6o  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

any  animal  to  make  such  strides  while  in  a 
trot. 

Nevertheless,  the  grisly  is  only  occasionally,  not 
normally,  a  formidable  predatory  beast,  a  killer 
of  cattle  and  of  large  game.  Although  capable 
of  far  swifter  movement  than  is  promised. by  his 
frame  of  seemingly  clumsy  strength,  and  in  spite 
of  his  power  of  charging  with  astonishing  sud- 
denness and  speed,  he  yet  lacks  altogether  the 
supple  agility  of  such  finished  destroyers  as  the 
cougar  and  the  wolf ;  and  for  the  absence  of  this 
agility  no  amount  of  mere  huge  muscle  can  atone. 
He  is  more  apt  to  feast  on  animals  which  have 
met  their  death  by  accident,  or  which  have  been 
killed  by  other  beasts  or  by  man,  than  to  do  his 
own  killing.  He  is  a  very  foul  feeder,  with  a 
strong  relish  for  carrion,  and  possesses  a  grew- 
some  and  cannibal  fondness  for  the  flesh  of  his 
own  kind ;  a  bear  carcass  will  toll  a  brother  bear 
to  the  ambushed  hunter  better  than  almost  any 
other  bait,  unless  it  is  the  carcass  of  a  horse. 

Nor  do  these  big  bears  always  content  them- 
selves merely  with  the  carcasses  of  their  breth- 
ren. A  black  bear  would  have  a  poor  chance  if 
in  the  clutches  of  a  large,  hungry  grisly;  and  an 
old  male  will  kill  and  eat  a  cub,  especially  if  he 
finds  it  at  a  disadvantage.  A  rather  remarkable 
instance  of  this  occurred  in  the  Yellowstone 
National  Park,  in  the  spring  of  1891.     The  in- 


Old  Ephraim,  the  Grisly  Bear       6i 

cident  is  related  in  the  following  letter  written 
to  Mr.  William  Hallett  Phillips,  of  Washington, 
by  another  friend,  Mr.  Elwood  Hofer.  Hofer  is 
an  old  mountain-man;  I  have  hunted  with  him 
myself,  and  know  his  statements  to  be  trust- 
worthy. He  was,  at  the  time,  at  work  in  the 
Park  getting  animals  for  the  National  Museum 
at  Washington,  and  was  staying  at  Yancey's 
"hotel"  near  Tower  Falls.  His  letter,  which 
was  dated  June  21,  1891,  runs  in  part  as  fol- 
lows: 

''I  had  a  splendid  Grizzly  or  Roachback  cub 
and  was  going  to  send  him  into  the  Springs  next 
morning  the  team  was  here,  I  heard  a  racket  out 
side  went  out  and  found  him  dead  an  old  bear 
that  made  an  9  1-2  inch  track  had  killed  and 
partly  eaten  him.  Last  night  another  one  came, 
one  that  made  an  8  1-2  inch  track,  and  broke 
Yancey  up  in  the  milk  business.  You  know  how 
the  cabins  stand  here.  There  is  a  hitching  post 
between  the  saloon  and  old  house,  the  little  bear 
was  killed  there.  In  a  creek  close  by  was  a  milk 
house,  last  night  another  bear  came  there  and 
smashed  the  whole  thing  up,  leaving  nothing 
but  a  few  flattened  buckets  and  pans  and  boards. 
I  was  sleeping  in  the  old  cabin,  I  heard  the  tin 
ware  rattle  but  thought  it  was  all  right  supposed 
it  was  cows  or  horses  about.  I  don't  care  about 
the  milk  but  the  damn  cuss  dug  up  the  remains 


62  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

of  the  cub  I  had  buried  in  the  old  ditch,  he  visited 
the  old  meat  house  but  found  nothing.  Bear  are 
very  thick  in  this  part  of  the  Park,  and  are  getting 
very  fresh.  I  sent  in  the  game  to  Capt.  Ander- 
son, hear  its  doing  well." 

Grislies  are  fond  of  fish;  and  on  the  Pacific 
slope,  where  the  salmon  run,  they,  like  so  many 
other  beasts,  travel  many  scores  of  miles  and 
crowd  down  to  the  rivers  to  gorge  themselves 
upon  the  fish  which  are  thrown  up  on  the  banks. 
Wading  into  the  water  a  bear  will  knock  out  the 
salmon  right  and  left  when  they  are  running 
thick. 

Flesh  and  fish  do  not  constitute  the  grisly' s 
ordinary  diet.  At  most  times  the  big  bear  is  a 
grubber  in  the  ground,  an  eater  of  insects,  roots, 
nuts,  and  berries.  Its  dangerous  fore  claws  are 
normally  used  to  overturn  stones  and  knock  rot- 
ten logs  to  pieces,  that  it  may  lap  up  the  small 
tribes  of  darkness  which  swarm  under  the  one 
and  in  the  other.  It  digs  up  the  camas  roots, 
wild  onions,  and  an  occasional  luckless  wood- 
chuck  or  gopher.  If  food  is  very  plenty  bears 
are  lazy,  but  commonly  they  are  obliged  to  be 
very  industrious,  it  being  no  light  task  to  gather 
enough  ants,  beetles,  crickets,  tumble-bugs,  roots, 
and  nuts  to  satisfy  the  cravings  of  so  huge  a  bulk. 
The  sign  of  a  bear's  work  is,  of  course,  evident 
to  the  most  unpractised  eye ;    and  in  no  way  can 


Old  Ephraim,  the  Grisly  Bear       63 

one  get  a  better  idea  of  the  brute's  power  than 
by  watching  it  busily  working  for  its  breakfast, 
shattering  big  logs  and  upsetting  boulders  by 
sheer  strength.  There  is  always  a  touch  of  the 
comic,  as  well  as  a  touch  of  the  strong  and  terri- 
ble, in  a  bear's  look  and  actions.  It  will  tug  and 
pull,  now  with  one  paw,  now  with  two,  now  on 
all  fours,  now  on  its  hind  legs,  in  the  effort  to 
turn  over  a  large  log  or  stone;  and  when  it  suc- 
ceeds it  jumps  round  to  thrust  its  muzzle  into 
the  damp  hollow  and  lap  up  the  affrighted  mice 
or  beetles  while  they  are  still  paralyzed  by  the 
sudden  exposure. 

The  true  time  of  plenty  for  bears  is  the  berry 
season.  Then  they  feast  ravenously  on  huckle- 
berries, blueberries,  kinnikinic  berries,  buffalo 
berries,  wild  plums,  elderberries,  and  scores  of 
other  fruits.  They  often  smash  all  the  bushes 
in  a  berry  patch,  gathering  the  fruit  with  half- 
luxurious,  half-laborious  greed,  sitting  on  their 
haunches,  and  sweeping  the  berries  into  their 
mouths  with  dexterous  paws.  So  absorbed  do 
they  become  in  their  feasts  on  the  luscious  fruit 
that  they  grow  reckless  of  their  safety,  and 
feed  in  broad  daylight,  almost  at  midday;  while 
in  some  of  the  thickets,  especially  those  of  the 
mountain  haws,  they  make  so  much  noise  in 
smashing  the  branches  that  it  is  a  comparatively 
easy  matter  to  approach  them  unheard.     That 


64  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

still-hunter  is  in  luck  who  in  the  fall  finds  an  ac- 
cessible berry-covered  hillside  which  is  haunted 
by  bears ;  but,  as  a  rule,  the  berry  bushes  do  not 
grow  close  enough  together  to  give  the  hunter 
much  chance. 

Like  most  other  wild  animals,  bears  which 
have  known  the  neighborhood  of  man  are  beasts 
of  the  darkness,  or  at  least  of  the  dusk  and  the 
gloaming.  But  they  are  by  no  means  such  true 
night-lovers  as  the  big  cats  and  the  wolves.  In 
regions  where  they  know  little  of  hunters  they 
roam  about  freely  in  the  daylight,  and  in  cool 
weather  are  even  apt  to  take  their  noontide  slum- 
bers basking  in  the  sun.  Where  they  are  much 
hunted  they  finally  almost  reverse  their  natural 
habits  and  sleep  throughout  the  hours  of  light, 
only  venturing  abroad  after  nightfall  and  before 
sunrise;  but  even  yet  this  is  not  the  habit  of 
those  bears  which  exist  in  the  wilder  localities 
where  they  are  still  plentiful.  In  these  places 
they  sleep,  or  at  least  rest,  during  the  hours  of 
greatest  heat,  and  again  in  the  middle  part  of 
the  night,  unless  there  is  a  full  moon.  They 
start  on  their  rambles  for  food  about  mid-after- 
noon, and  end  their  morning  roaming  soon  after 
the  sun  is  above  the  horizon.  If  the  moon  is  full, 
however,  they  may  feed  all  night  long,  and  then 
wander  but  little  in  the  daytime. 

Aside   from   man,    the   full-grown   grisly   has 


Old  Ephraim,  the  Grisly  Bear      65 

hardly  any  foe  to  fear.  Nevertheless,  in  the 
early  spring,  when  weakened  by  the  hunger  that 
succeeds  the  winter  sleep,  it  behooves  even  the 
grisly,  if  he  dwells  in  the  mountain  fastnesses  of 
the  far  Northwest,  to  beware  of  a  famished  troop 
of  great  timber  wolves.  These  northern  Rocky 
Mountain  wolves  are  most  formidable  beasts,  and 
when  many  of  them  band  together  in  time  of  fam- 
ine they  do  not  hesitate  to  pounce  on  the  black 
bear  and  cougar;  and  even  a  full-grown  grisly  is 
not  safe  from  their  attacks,  unless  he  can  back 
up  against  some  rock  which  will  prevent  them 
from  assailing  him  from  behind.  A  small  ranch- 
man whom  I  knew  well,  who  lived  near  Flathead 
Lake,  once  in  April  found  where  a  troop  of  these 
wolves  had  killed  a  good-sized  yearling  grisly. 
Either  cougar  or  wolf  will  make  a  prey  of  a  grisly 
which  is  but  a  few  months  old;  while  any  fox, 
lynx,  wolverine,  or  fisher  will  seize  the  very 
young  cubs.  The  old  story  about  wolves  fearing 
to  feast  on  game  killed  by  a  grisly  is  all  nonsense. 
Wolves  are  canny  beasts,  and  they  will  not  ap- 
proach a  carcass  if  they  think  a  bear  is  hidden 
near  by  and  likely  to  rush  out  at  them;  but 
under  ordinary  circumstances  they  will  feast  not 
only  on  the  carcasses  of  the  grisly' s  victims,  but 
on  the  carcass  of  the  grisly  himself  after  he  has 
been  slain  and  left  by  the  hunter.  Of  course, 
wolves  would  only  attack  a  grisly  if  in  the  most 

VOL.  II.— 5. 


66  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

desperate  straits  for  food,  as  even  a  victory  over 
such  an  antagonist  must  be  purchased  with 
heavy  loss  of  life ;  and  a  hungry  grisly  would  de- 
vour either  a  wolf  or  a  cougar,  or  any  one  of  the 
smaller  camivora  off-hand  if  it  happened  to  cor- 
ner it  where  it  could  not  get  away. 

The  grisly  occasionally  makes  its  den  in  a  cave 
and  spends  therein  the  midday  hours.  But  this 
is  rare.  Usually  it  lies  in  the  dense  shelter  of  the 
most  tangled  piece  of  woods  in  the  neighborhood, 
choosing  by  preference  some  bit  where  the  yoimg 
growth  is  thick  and  the  ground  strewn  with 
boulders  and  fallen  logs.  Often,  especially  if  in 
a  restless  mood  and  roaming  much  over  the 
cotmtry,  it  merely  makes  a  temporary  bed,  in 
which  it  lies  but  once  or  twice ;  and  again  it  may 
make  a  more  permanent  lair  or  series  of  lairs, 
spending  many  consecutive  nights  in  each.  Us- 
ually the  lair  or  bed  is  made  some  distance  from 
the  f eeding-groimd ;  but  bold  bears,  in  very  wild 
localities,  may  lie  close  by  a  carcass,  or  in  the 
middle  of  a  berry-ground.  The  deer-killing  bear 
above  mentioned  had  evidently  dragged  two  or 
three  of  his  victims  to  his  den,  which  was  under 
an  impenetrable  mat  of  buUberries  and  dwarf 
box-alders,  hemmed  in  by  a  cut  bank  on  one 
side  and  a  wall  of  gnarled  cottonwoods  on  the 
other.  Roimd  this  den,  and  rendering  it  noi- 
some, were  scattered  the  bones  of  several  deer 


Old  Ephraim,  the  Grisly  Bear       67 

and  a  young  steer  or  heifer.  When  we  found 
it  we  thought  we  could  easily  kill  the  bear,  but  the 
fierce,  cunning  beast  must  have  seen  or  smelt  us, 
for  though  we  laid  in  wait  for  it  long  and  pa- 
tiently, it  did  not  come  back  to  its  place;  nor, 
on  our  subsequent  visits,  did  we  ever  find  traces 
of  its  having  done  so. 

Bear  are  fond  of  wallowing  in  the  water,  whether 
in  the  sand,  on  the  edge  of  a  rapid  plains  river,  on 
the  muddy  margin  of  a  pond,  or  in  the  oozy  moss 
of  a  clear,  cold  mountain  spring.  One  hot  August 
afternoon,  as  I  was  clambering  down  a  steep 
mountain-side  near  Pend  Oreille  Lake,  I  heard  a 
crash  some  distance  below,  which  showed  that  a 
large  beast  was  afoot.  On  making  my  way  towards 
the  spot,  I  found  I  had  disturbed  a  big  bear  as  it 
was  lolling  at  ease  in  its  bath;  the  discolored 
water  showed  where  it  had  scrambled  hastily 
out  and  galloped  off  as  I  approached.  The  spring 
welled  out  at  the  base  of  a  high  granite  rock, 
forming  a  small  pool  of  shimmering  broken  crystal. 
The  soaked  moss  lay  in  a  deep  wet  cushion  round 
about,  and  jutted  over  the  edges  of  the  pool  like  a 
floating  shelf.  Graceful,  water-loving  ferns  swayed 
to  and  fro.  Above,  the  great  conifers  spread  their 
murmuring  branches,  dimming  the  light,  and 
keeping  out  the  heat;  their  brown  boles  sprang 
from  the  ground  like  buttressed  columns.  On 
the  barren  mountain-side  beyond,  the  heat  was 


68  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

oppressive.  It  was  small  wonder  that  Bruin  should 
have  sought  the  spot  to  cool  his  gross  carcass  in 
the  fresh  spring  water. 

The  bear  is  a  solitary  beast,  and  although  many 
may  assemble  together  in  what  looks  like  a  drove, 
on  some  favorite  feeding-ground — usually  where 
the  berries  are  thick,  or  by  the  banks  of  a  salmon- 
thronged  river — the  association  is  never  more  than 
momentary,  each  going  its  own  way  as  soon  as  its 
hunger  is  satisfied.  The  males  always  live  alone 
by  choice,  save  in  the  rutting  season,  when  they 
seek  the  females.  Then  two  or  three  may  come  to- 
gether in  the  course  of  their  pursuit  and  rough 
courtship  of  the  female ;  and  if  the  rivals  are  well 
matched,  savage  battles  follow,  so  that  many  of 
the  old  males  have  their  heads  seamed  with  scars 
made  by  their  fellows'  teeth.  At  such  times  they 
are  evil  tempered  and  prone  to  attack  man  or 
beast  on  slight  provocation. 

The  she  brings  forth  her  cubs,  one,  two,  or  three 
in  number,  in  her  winter  den.  They  are  very  small 
and  helpless  things,  and  it  is  some  time  after  she 
leaves  her  winter  home  before  they  can  follow  her 
for  any  distance.  They  stay  with  her  throughout 
the  summer  and  the  fall,  leaving  her  when  the  cold 
weather  sets  in.  By  this  time  they  are  well  grown ; 
and  hence,  especially  if  an  old  male  has  joined  the 
she,  the  family  may  number  three  or  four  individ- 
uals, so  as  to  make  what  seems  like  quite  a  little 


Old  Ephraim,  the  Grisly  Bear       69 

troop  of  bears.  A  small  ranchman  who  lived  a 
dozen  miles  from  me  on  the  Little  Missouri  once 
found  a  she-bear  and  three  half -grown  cubs  feed- 
ing at  a  berry-patch  in  a  ravine.  He  shot  the  old 
she  in  the  small  of  the  back,  whereat  she  made  a 
loud  roaring  and  squealing.  One  of  the  cubs 
rushed  towards  her ;  but  its  sympathy  proved  mis- 
placed, for  she  knocked  it  over  with  a  hearty  cuff, 
either  out  of  mere  temper,  or  because  she  thought 
her  pain  must  be  due  to  an  unprovoked  assault 
from  one  of  her  offspring.  The  hunter  then  killed 
one  of  the  cubs,  and  the  other  two  escaped.  When 
bears  are  together  and  one  is  wotmded  by  a  bullet, 
but  does  not  see  the  real  assailant,  it  often  falls 
tooth  and  nail  upon  its  comrade,  apparently  at- 
tributing its  injury  to  the  latter. 

Bears  are  hunted  in  many  ways.  Some  are 
killed  by  poison;  but  this  plan  is  only  practised 
by  the  owners  of  cattle  or  sheep  who  have  suffered 
from  their  ravages.  Moreover,  they  are  harder  to 
poison  than  wolves.  Most  often  they  are  killed  in 
traps — which  are  sometimes  dead-falls,  on  the  prin- 
ciple of  the  little  figure-4  trap  familiar  to  every 
American  country  boy,  sometimes  log-pens  in 
which  the  animal  is  taken  alive,  but  generally  huge 
steel  gins.  In  some  States  there  is  a  bounty  for  the 
destruction  of  grislies;  and  in  many  places  their 
skins  have  a  market  price,  although  much  less 
valuable  than  those  of  the  black  bear.     The  men 


70  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

who  pursue  them  for  the  bounty,  or  for  their  fur, 
as  well  as  the  ranchmen  who  regard  them  as  foes  to 
stock,  ordinarily  use  steel  traps.  The  trap  is  very 
massive,  needing  no  small  strength  to  set,  and  it  is 
usually  chained  to  a  bar  or  log  of  wood,  which  does 
not  stop  the  bear's  progress  outright,  but  hampers 
and  interferes  with  it,  continually  catching  in  tree 
stumps  and  the  like.  The  animal  when  trapped 
makes  off  at  once,  biting  at  the  trap  and  the  bar ; 
but  it  leaves  a  broad  wake,  and  sooner  or  later  is 
found  tangled  up  by  the  chain  and  bar.  A  bear  is 
by  no  means  so  difficult  to  trap  as  a  wolf  or  fox, 
although  more  so  than  a  cougar  or  a  lynx.  In  wild 
regions  a  skilful  trapper  can  often  catch  a  great 
many  with  comparative  ease.  A  cimning  old 
grisly,  however,  soon  learns  the  danger,  and  is  then 
almost  impossible  to  trap,  as  it  either  avoids  the 
neighborhood  altogether  or  finds  out  some  way 
by  which  to  get  at  the  bait  without  springing 
the  trap,  or  else  deliberately  springs  it  first.  I 
have  been  told  of  bears  which  spring  traps  by 
rolling  across  them,  the  iron  jaws  slipping  harm- 
lessly off  the  big  round  body.  An  old  horse  is 
the  most  common  bait. 

It  is,  of  course,  all  right  to  trap  bears  when 
they  are  followed  merely  as  vermin  or  for  the 
sake  of  the  fur.  Occasionally,  however,  himters 
who  are  out  merely  for  sport  adopt  this  method; 
but   this   shoiild  never  be   done.      To   shoot   a 


Old  Ephraim,  the  Grisly  Bear       71 

trapped  bear  for  sport  is  a  thoroughly  unsports- 
manlike proceeding.  A  ftinny  plea  sometimes  ad- 
vanced in  its  favor  is  that  it  is  "  dangerous."  No 
doubt  in  exceptional  instances  this  is  true ;  ex- 
actly as  it  is  true  that  in  exceptional  instances  it 
is  ''  dangerous  "  for  a  butcher  to  knock  over  a  steer 
in  the  slaughter-house.  A  bear  caught  only  by  the 
toes  may  wrench  itself  free  as  the  hunter  comes 
near,  and  attack  him  with  pain-maddened  fury; 
or  if  followed  at  once,  and  if  the  trap  and  bar  are 
light,  it  may  be  found  in  some  thicket,  still  free, 
and  in  a  frenzy  of  rage.  But  even  in  such  cases  the 
beast  has  been  crippled,  and  though  crazy  with 
pain  and  anger  is  easily  dealt  with  by  a  good  shot ; 
while  ordinarily  the  poor  brute  is  found  in  the  last 
stages  of  exhaustion,  tied  tight  to  a  tree  where 
the  log  or  bar  has  caught,  its  teeth  broken  to 
splintered  stumps  by  rabid  snaps  at  the  cruel 
trap  and  chain.  Some  trappers  kill  the  trapped 
grislies  with  a  revolver;  so  that  it  may  easily  be 
seen  that  the  sport  is  not  normally  dangerous. 
Two  of  my  own  cowboys,  Seawell  and  Dow,  were 
originally  from  Maine,  where  they  had  trapped 
a  number  of  black  bears ;  and  they  always  killed 
them  either  with  a  hatchet  or  a  small  3  2 -calibre 
revolver.  One  of  them,  Seawell,  once  came  near 
being  mauled  by  a  trapped  bear,  seemingly  at  the 
last  gasp,  which  he  approached  incautiously  with 
his  hatchet. 


72  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

There  is,  however,  one  very  real  danger  to 
which  the  solitary  bear-trapper  is  exposed,  the 
danger  of  being  caught  in  his  own  trap.  The 
huge  jaws  of  the  gin  are  easy  to  spring  and  most 
hard  to  open.  If  an  unwary  passer-by  should 
tread  between  them  and  be  caught  by  the  leg, 
his  fate  would  be  doubtful,  though  he  would 
probably  die  under  the  steadily  growing  torment 
of  the  merciless  iron  jaws,  as  they  pressed  ever 
deeper  into  the  sore  flesh  and  broken  bones.  But 
if  caught  by  the  arms,  while  setting  or  fixing  the 
trap,  his  fate  would  be  in  no  doubt  at  all,  for  it 
would  be  impossible  for  the  stoutest  man  to  free 
himself  by  any  means.  Terrible  stories  are  told 
of  solitary  mountain  hunters  who  disappeared, 
and  were  found  years  later  in  the  lonely  wilder- 
ness, as  mouldering  skeletons,  the  shattered  bones 
of  the  forearms  still  held  in  the  rusty  jaws  of 
the  gin. 

Doubtless  the  grisly  could  be  successfully 
hunted  with  dogs,  if  the  latter  were  carefully 
bred  and  trained  to  the  purpose,  but  as  yet  this 
has  not  been  done,  and  though  dogs  are  some- 
times used  as  adjuncts  in  grisly  hunting  they  are 
rarely  of  much  service.  It  is  sometimes  said 
that  very  small  dogs  are  the  best  for  this  end. 
But  this  is  only  so  with  grislies  that  have  never 
been  himted.  In  such  a  case  the  big  bear  some- 
times becomes  so  irritated  with  the    bouncing, 


Old  Ephraim,  the  Grisly  Bear       7^ 

yapping  little  terriers  or  fice-dogs  that  he  may 
try  to  catch  them  and  thus  permit  the  hunter  to 
creep  upon  him.  But  the  minute  he  realizes,  as  he 
speedily  does,  that  the  man  is  his  real  foe,  he  pays 
no  further  heed  whatever  to  the  little  dogs,  who 
can  then  neither  bring  him  to  bay  nor  hinder  his 
flight.  Ordinary  hounds,  of  the  kinds  used  in 
the  South  for  fox,  deer,  wild-cat,  and  black  bear, 
are  but  little  better.  I  have  known  one  or  two 
men  who  at  different  times  tried  to  hunt  the 
grisly  with  a  pack  of  hounds  and  fice-dogs  wonted 
to  the  chase  of  the  black  bear,  but  they  never 
met  with  success.  This  was  probably  largely 
owing  to  the  nature  of  the  country  in  which  they 
himted,  a  vast  tangled  mass  of  forest  and  craggy 
motmtain;  but  it  was  also  due  to  the  utter  in- 
ability of  the  dogs  to  stop  the  quarry  from  break- 
ing bay  when  it  wished.  Several  times  a  grisly 
was  bayed,  but  always  in  some  inaccessible  spot 
which  it  took  hard  climbing  to  reach,  and  the 
dogs  were  never  able  to  hold  the  beast  until  the 
himters  came  up. 

Still  a  well-trained  pack  of  large  hounds,  which 
were  both  bold  and  cunning,  could  doubtless  bay 
even  a  grisly.  Such  dogs  are  the  big  half-breed 
hounds  sometimes  used  in  the  Alleghanies  of  West 
Virginia,  which  are  trained  not  merely  to  nip  a 
bear,  but  to  grip  him  by  the  hock  as  he  runs 
and  either  throw  him  or  twirl  him  roimd.     A 


74  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

grisly  could  not  disregard  a  wary  and  power- 
ful hound  capable  of  performing  this  trick, 
even  though  he  paid  small  heed  to  mere  barking 
and  occasional  nipping.  Nor  do  I  doubt  that  it 
would  be  possible  to  get  together  a  pack  of 
many  large,  fierce  dogs,  trained  to  dash  straight 
at  the  head  and  hold  on  like  a  vice,  which  could 
fairly  master  a  grisly  and,  though  unable,  of 
course,  to  kill  him,  would  worry  him  breathless 
and  hold  him  down  so  that  he  could  be  slain  with 
ease.  There  have  been  instances  in  which  five 
or  six  of  the  big  so-called  bloodhounds  of  the 
Southern  States  —  not  pure  bloodhounds  at  all, 
but  huge,  fierce,  ban-dogs,  with  a  cross  of  the 
ferocious  Cuban  bloodhound,  to  give  them  good 
scenting  powers — ^have  by  themselves  mastered 
the  cougar  and  the  black  bear.  Such  instances 
occurred  in  the  hunting  history  of  my  own  fore- 
fathers on  my  mother's  side,  who  during  the  last 
half  of  the  eighteenth,  and  the  first  half  of  the 
present,  century  lived  in  Georgia  and  over  the 
border  in  what  are  now  Alabama  and  Florida. 
These  big  dogs  can  only  overcome  such  foes  by 
rushing  in  in  a  body  and  grappling  all  together; 
if  they  hang  back,  lunging  and  snapping,  a  cou- 
gar or  bear  will  destroy  them  one  by  one.  With 
a  quarry  so  huge  and  redoubtable  as  the  grisly, 
no  number  of  dogs,  however  large  and  fierce, 
could  overcome  him  unless  they  all  rushed  on 


Old  Ephraim,  the  Grisly  Bear       75 

him  in  a  mass,  the  first  in  the  charge  seizing  by 
the  head  or  throat.  If  the  dogs  hung  back,  or  if 
there  were  only  a  few  of  them,  or  if  they  did  not 
seize  around  the  head,  they  would  be  destroyed 
without  an  effort.  It  is  murder  to  slip  merely 
one  or  two  close-quarter  dogs  at  a  grisly.  Twice 
I  have  known  a  man  take  a  large  bulldog  with 
his  pack  when  after  one  of  these  big  bears,  and 
in  each  case  the  result  was  the  same.  In  one 
instance  the  bear  was  trotting  when  the  bulldog 
seized  it  by  the  cheek,  and  without  so  much  as 
altering  its  gait,  it  brushed  off  the  hanging  dog 
with  a  blow  from  the  fore  paw  that  broke  the 
latter' s  back.  In  the  other  instance  the  bear  had 
come  to  bay,  and  when  seized  by  the  ear  it  got 
the  dog's  body  up  to  its  jaws,  and  tore  out  the 
life  with  one  crunch. 

A  small  number  of  dogs  must  rely  on  their 
activity,  and  must  hamper  the  bear's  escape  by 
inflicting  a  severe  bite  and  avoiding  the  counter- 
stroke.  The  only  dog  I  ever  heard  of  which, 
single-handed,  was  really  of  service  in  stopping 
a  grisly,  was  a  big  Mexican  sheep-dog,  once  owned 
by  the  hunter  Tazewell  Woody.  It  was  an,  agile 
beast  with  powerful  jaws,  and  possessed  both  in- 
telligence and  a  fierce,  resolute  temper.  Woody 
killed  three  grislies  with  its  aid.  It  attacked 
with  equal  caution  and  ferocity,  rushing  at  the 
bear  as  the  latter  ran,  and  seizing  the  outstretched 


76  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

hock  with  a  grip  of  iron,  stopping  the  bear  short, 
but  letting  go  before  the  angry  beast  could  whirl 
round  and  seize  it.  It  was  so  active  and  wary 
that  it  always  escaped  damage;  and  it  was  so 
strong  and  bit  so  severely  that  the  bear  could 
not  possibly  run  from  it  at  any  speed.  In  conse- 
quence, if  it  once  came  to  close  quarters  with  its 
quarry,  Woody  could  always  get  near  enough 
for  a  shot. 

Hitherto,  however,  the  mountain  hunters — as 
distinguished  from  the  trappers — who  have  fol- 
lowed  the   grisly  have   relied   almost   solely   on 
their  rifles.     In  my  own  case  about  half  the  bears 
I  have  killed  I  stumbled  across  almost    by  acci- 
dent;   and  probably  this  proportion  holds  good 
generally.     The  hunter  may  be  after  bear  at  the 
time,  or  he  may  be  after  blacktail  deer  or  elk, 
the  common  game  in  most  of  the  hatmts  of  the 
grisly;    or  he  may  merely  be  travelling  through 
the  country  or  prospecting  for  gold.     Suddenly 
he  comes  over  the  edge  of  a  cut  bank,  or  round 
the  sharp  spur  of  a  mountain  or  the  shoulder  of 
a  cliff  which  walls  in  a  ravine,  or  else  the  indis- 
tinct game  trail  he  has  been  following  through 
the  great  trees  twists  sharply  to  one  side  to  avoid 
a  rock  or  a  mass  of  down  timber,  and,  behold,  he 
surprises  Old  Ephraim  digging  for  roots,  or  mimch- 
ing  berries,  or  slouching  along  the  path,  or  per- 
haps rising  suddenly  from  the  lush,   rank  plants 


Old  Ephraim,  the  Grisly  Bear       n 

amid  which  he  has  been  lying.  Or  it  may  be 
that  the  bear  will  be  spied  afar  rooting  in  an  open 
glade  or  on  a  bare  hillside. 

In  the  still-hunt  proper  it  is  necessary  to  find 
some  favorite  feeding-groimd,  where  there  are 
many  roots  or  berry-bearing  bushes,  or  else  to 
lure  the  grisly  to  a  carcass.  This  last  method  of 
"baiting"  for  bear  is  imder  ordinary  circum- 
stances the  only  way  which  affords  even  a  mod- 
erately fair  chance  of  killing  them.  They  are 
very  cunning,  with  the  sharpest  of  noses,  and 
where  they  have  had  experience  of  hunters 
they  dwell  only  in  cover  where  it  is  almost  im- 
possible for  the  best  of  still-hunters  to  approach 
them. 

Nevertheless,  in  favorable  ground  a  man  can 
often  find  and  kill  them  by  fair  stalking,  in  berry- 
time,  or  more  especially  in  the  early  spring,  be- 
fore the  snow  has  gone  from  the  mountains,  and 
while  the  bears  are  driven  by  hunger  to  roam 
much  abroad  and  sometimes  to  seek  their  food  in 
the  open.  In  such  cases  the  still-hunter  is  stir- 
ring by  the  earliest  dawn,  and  walks  with  stealthy 
speed  to  some  high  point  of  observation  from 
which  he  can  overlook  the  feeding-grounds  where 
he  has  previously  discovered  sign.  From  the 
coign  of  vantage  he  scans  the  country  far  and 
near,  either  with  his  own  keen  eyes  or  with  power- 
ful glasses;   and  he  must  combine  patience  and 


y^  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

good  sight  with  the  abiHty  to  traverse  long  dis- 
tances noiselessly  and  yet  at  speed.  He  may 
spend  two  or  three  hours  sitting  still  and  look- 
ing over  a  vast  tract  of  country  before  he  will 
suddenly  spy  a  bear ;  or  he  may  see  nothing  after 
the  most  careful  search  in  a  given  place,  and  must 
then  go  on  half  a  dozen  miles  to  another,  watch- 
ing warily  as  he  walks,  and  continuing  this  possi- 
bly for  several  days  before  getting  a  glimpse  of 
his  game.  If  the  bear  are  digging  roots,  or  other- 
wise procuring  their  food  on  the  bare  hillsides 
and  table-lands,  it  is  of  course  comparatively 
easy  to  see  them;  and  it  is  under  such  circum- 
stances that  this  kind  of  hunting  is  most  success- 
ful. Once  seen,  the  actual  stalk  may  take  two 
or  three  hours,  the  nature  of  the  ground  and 
the  direction  of  the  wind  often  necessitating  a 
long  circuit;  perhaps  a  gully,  a  rock,  or  a  fallen 
log  offers  a  chance  for  an  approach  to  within 
two  hundred  yards,  and  although  the  hunter  will, 
if  possible,  get  much  closer  than  this,  yet  even  at 
such  a  distance  a  bear  is  a  large  enough  mark  to 
warrant  risking  a  shot. 

Usually  the  berry-grounds  do  not  offer  such 
favorable  opportunities,  as  they  often  lie  in  thick 
timber,  or  are  covered  so  densely  with  bushes  as 
to  obstruct  the  view;  and  they  are  rarely  com- 
manded by  a  favorable  spot  from  which  to  spy. 
On  the  other  hand,  as  already  said,  bears  occa- 


Old  Ephraim,  the  Grisly  Bear       79 

sionally  forget  all  their  watchfulness  while  de- 
vouring fruit,  and  make  such  a  noise  rending  and 
tearing  the  bushes  that,  if  once  found,  a  man  can 
creep  upon  them  unobserved. 


CHAPTER  IV 

HUNTING   THE    GRISLY 

IF  out  in  the  late  fall  or  early  spring,  it  is  often 
possible  to  follow  a  bear's  trail  in  the  snow; 
having  come  upon  it  either  by  chance  or 
hard  hunting,  or  else  having  found  where  it 
leads  from  some  carcass  on  which  the  beast  has 
been  feeding.  In  the  pursuit  one  must  exercise 
great  caution,  as  at  such  times  the  hunter  is  easily 
seen  a  long  way  off,  and  game  is  always  especially 
watchful  for  any  foe  that  may  follow  its  trail. 

Once  I  killed  a  grisly  in  this  manner.  It  was 
early  in  the  fall,  but  snow  lay  on  the  groimd, 
while  the  gray  weather  boded  a  storm.  My  camp 
was  in  a  bleak,  wind-swept  valley,  high  among 
the  mountains  which  form  the  divide  between 
the  head-waters  of  the  Salmon  and  Clarke's  Fork 
of  the  Columbia.  All  night  I  had  lain  in  my 
buffalo-bag,  under  the  lee  of  a  windbreak  of 
branches,  in  the  clump  of  fir-trees,  where  I  had 
halted  the  preceding  evening.  At  my  feet  ran  a 
rapid  mountain  torrent,  its  bed  choked  with  ice- 
covered  rocks ;  I  had  been  lulled  to  sleep  by  the 
stream's  splashing  murmur,  and  the  loud  moan- 

80 


Hunting  the  Grisly  8i 

ing  of  the  wind  along  the  naked  cliffs.  At  dawn 
I  rose  and  shook  myself  free  of  the  buffalo-robe, 
coated  with  hoar-frost.  The  ashes  of  the  fire 
were  lifeless;  in  the  dim  morning  the  air  was 
bitter  cold.  I  did  not  linger  a  moment,  but 
snatched  up  my  rifle,  pulled  on  my  fur  cap  and 
gloves,  and  strode  off  up  a  side  ravine;  as  I 
walked  I  ate  some  mouthfuls  of  venison,  left  over 
from  supper. 

Two  hours  of  toil  up  the  steep  mountain  brought 
me  to  the  top  of  a  spur.  The  sun  had  risen,  but 
was  hidden  behind  a  bank  of  sullen  clouds.  On 
the  divide  I  halted,  and  gazed  out  over  a  vast 
landscape,  inconceivably  wild  and  dismal.  Around 
me  towered  the  stupendous  mountain  masses 
which  make  up  the  backbone  of  the  Rockies. 
From  my  feet,  as  far  as  I  could  see,  stretched  a 
rugged  and  barren  chaos  of  ridges  and  detached 
rock  masses.  Behind  me,  far  below,  the  stream 
woimd  like  a  silver  ribbon,  fringed  with  dark 
conifers  and  the  changing,  dying  foliage  of  poplar 
and  quaking  aspen.  In  front  the  bottoms  of  the 
valley  were  filled  with  the  sombre  evergreen  forest, 
dotted  here  and  there  with  black,  ice-skimmed 
tarns ;  and  the  dark  spruces  clustered  also  in  the 
higher  gorges,  and  were  scattered  thinly  along  the 
mountain-sides.  The  snow  which  had  fallen  lay 
in  drifts  and  streaks,  while,  where  the  wind  had 
scope,  it  was  blown  off,  and  the  ground  left  bare. 

VOL.  II. — 6. 


S2  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

For  two  hours  I  walked  onwards  across  the 
ridges  and  valleys.  Then  among  some  scattered 
spruces,  where  the  snow  lay  to  the  depth  of  half 
a  foot,  I  suddenly  came  on  the  fresh,  broad  trail 
of  a  grisly.  The  brute  was  evidently  roam- 
ing restlessly  about  in  search  of  a  winter  den,  but 
willing,  in  passing,  to  pick  up  any  food  that  lay 
handy.  At  once  I  took  the  trail,  travelling  above 
and  to  one  side,  and  keeping  a  sharp  lookout 
ahead.  The  bear  was  going  across  wind,  and 
this  made  my  task  easy.  I  walked  rapidly 
though  cautiously;  and  it  was  only  in  crossing 
the  large  patches  of  bare  ground  that  I  had  to  fear 
making  a  noise.  Elsewhere  the  snow  muffled  my 
footsteps,  and  made  the  trail  so  plain  that  I 
scarcely  had  to  waste  a  glance  upon  it,  bending 
my  eyes  always  to  the  front. 

At  last,  peering  cautiously  over  a  ridge  crowned 
with  broken  rocks,  I  saw  my  quarry,  a  big  burly 
bear,  with  silvered  fur.  He  had  halted  on  an 
open  hillside,  and  was  busily  digging  up  the 
caches  of  some  rock  gophers  or  squirrels.  He 
seemed  absorbed  in  his  work,  and  the  stalk  was 
easy.  Slipping  quietly  back,  I  ran  towards  the 
end  of  the  spur,  and  in  ten  minutes  struck  a  ravine, 
of  which  one  branch  ran  past  within  seventy 
yards  of  where  the  bear  was  working.  In  this 
ravine  was  a  rather  close  growth  of  stunted  ever- 
greens, affording  good  cover,  although  in  one  or 


Hunting  the  Grisly  83 

two  places  I  had  to  lie  down  and  crawl  through 
the  snow.  When  I  reached  the  point  for  which 
I  was  aiming,  the  bear  had  just  finished  rooting, 
and  was  starting  off.  A  slight  whistle  brought 
him  to  a  standstill,  and  I  drew  a  bead  behind 
his  shoulder,  and  low  down,  resting  the  rifle  across 
the  crooked  branch  of  a  dwarf  spruce.  At  the 
crack  he  ran  off  at  speed,  making  no  sound,  but 
the  thick  spatter  of  blood  splashes,  showing  clear 
on  the  white  snow,  betrayed  the  mortal  nature 
of  the  wound.  For  some  minutes  I  followed  the 
trail;  and  then,  topping  a  ridge,  I  saw  the  dark 
bulk  lying  motionless  in  a  snowdrift  at  the  foot 
of  a  low  rock- wall,  down  which  he  had  tumbled. 

The  usual  practice  of  the  still-hunter  who  is 
after  grisly  is  to  toll  it  to  baits.  The  htmter  either 
lies  in  ambush  near  the  carcass,  or  approaches  it 
stealthily  when  he  thinks  the  bear  is  at  its  meal. 

One  day  while  camped  near  the  Bitter  Root 
Mountains  in  Montana  I  found  that  a  bear  had 
been  feeding  on  the  carcass  of  a  moose  which  lay 
some  five  miles  from  the  little  open  glade  in  which 
my  tent  was  pitched,  and  I  made  up  my  mind 
to  try  to  get  a  shot  at  it  that  afternoon.  I  stayed 
in  camp  till  about  three  o'clock,  lying  lazily  back 
on  the  bed  of  sweet-smelling  evergreen  boughs, 
watching  the  pack-ponies  as  they  stood  imder 
the  pines  on  the  edge  of  the  open,  stamping  now 
and  then,   and   switching  their  tails.     The   air 


84  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

was  still,  the  sky  a  glorious  blue;  at  that  hour 
in  the  afternoon  even  the  September  sun  was  hot. 
The  smoke  from  the  smouldering  logs  of  the  camp- 
fire  curled  thinly  upwards.  Little  chipmunks 
scuttled  out  from  their  holes  to  the  packs,  which 
lay  in  a  heap  on  the  ground,  and  then  scuttled 
madly  back  again.  A  couple  of  drab-colored 
whisky-jacks,  with  bold  mien  and  fearless  bright 
eyes,  hopped  and  fluttered  round,  picking  up  the 
scraps,  and  uttering  an  extraordinary  variety  of 
notes,  mostly  discordant ;  so  tame  were  they  that 
one  of  them  lit  on  my  outstretched  arm  as  I  half 
dozed,  basking  in  the  sunshine. 

When  the  shadows  began  to  lengthen,  I  shoul- 
dered my  rifle  and  plunged  into  the  woods.  At 
first  my  route  lay  along  a  mountain-side;  then 
for  half  a  mile  over  a  windfall,  the  dead  timber 
piled  about  in  crazy  confusion.  After  that  I 
went  up  the  bottom  of  a  valley  by  a  little  brook, 
the  ground  being  carpeted  with  a  sponge  of 
soaked  moss.  At  the  head  of  this  brook  was  a 
pond  covered  with  water-lilies;  and  a  scramble 
through  a  rocky  pass  took  me  into  a  high,  wet 
valley,  where  the  thick  growth  of  spruce  was 
broken  by  occasional  strips  of  meadow.  In  this 
valley  the  moose  carcass  lay,  well  at  the  upper 
end. 

In  moccasined  feet  I  trod  softly  through  the 
sotmdless  woods.     Under  the  dark  branches  it 


Hunting  the  Grisly  85 

was  already  dusk,  and  the  air  had  the  cool  chill 
of  evening.  As  I  neared  the  clump  where  the 
body  lay,  I  walked  with  redoubled  caution, 
watching  and  listening  with  strained  alertness. 
Then  I  heard  a  twig  snap ;  and  my  blood  leaped, 
for  I  knew  the  bear  was  at  his  supper.  In  another 
moment  I  saw  his  shaggy,  brown  form.  He  was 
working  with  all  his  awkward  strength,  trying  to 
bury  the  carcass,  twisting  it  to  one  side  and  the 
other  with  wonderful  ease.  Once  he  got  angry, 
and  suddenly  gave  it  a  tremendous  cuff  with  his 
paw;  in  his  bearing  he  had  something  half  hu- 
morous, half  devilish.  I  crept  up  within  forty 
yards ;  but  for  several  minutes  he  would  not  keep 
his  head  still.  Then  something  attracted  his  at- 
tention in  the  forest,  and  he  stood  motionless 
looking  towards  it,  broadside  to  me,  with  his 
fore  paws  planted  on  the  carcass.  This  gave  me 
my  chance.  I  drew  a  very  fine  bead  between 
his  eye  and  ear,  and  pulled  trigger.  He  dropped 
like  a  steer  when  struck  with  a  pole-axe. 

If  there  is  a  good  hiding-place  handy  it  is  bet- 
ter to  lie  in  wait  at  the  carcass.  One  day  on  the 
head- waters  of  the  Madison,  I  found  that  a  bear 
was  coming  to  an  elk  I  had  shot  some  days  be- 
fore; and  I  at  once  determined  to  ambush  the 
beast  when  he  came  back  that  evening.  The 
carcass  lay  in  the  middle  of  a  valley  a  quarter 
of  a  mile  broad.     The  bottom  of  this  valley  was 


86  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

covered  by  an  open  forest  of  tall  pines;  a  thick 
jungle  of  smaller  evergreens  marked  where  the 
mountains  rose  on  either  hand.  There  were  a 
number  of  large  rocks  scattered  here  and  there, 
one,  of  very  convenient  shape,  being  only  some 
seventy  or  eighty  yards  from  the  carcass.  Up 
this  I  clambered.  It  hid  me  perfectly,  and  on 
its  top  was  a  carpet  of  soft  pine-needles,  on  which 
I  could  lie  at  my  ease. 

Hour  after  hour  passed  by.  A  little  black 
woodpecker  with  a  yellow  crest  ran  nimbly  up 
and  down  the  tree-trunks  for  some  time  and  then 
flitted  away  with  a  party  of  chickadees  and  nut- 
hatches. Occasionally  a  Clarke's  crow  soared 
about  overhead  or  clung  in  any  position  to  the 
swaying  end  of  a  pine  branch,  chattering  and 
screaming.  Flocks  of  cross-bills,  with  wavy  flight 
and  plaintive  calls,  flew  to  a  small  mineral  lick 
near  by,  where  they  scraped  the  clay  with  their 
queer  little  beaks. 

As  the  westering  sun  sank  out  of  sight  beyond 
the  mountains  these  sounds  of  bird-life  gradually 
died  away.  Under  the  great  pines  the  evening 
was  still  with  the  silence  of  primeval  desolation. 
The  sense  of  sadness  and  loneliness,  the  melan- 
choly of  the  wilderness,  came  over  me  like  a 
spell.  Every  slight  noise  made  my  pulses  throb 
as  I  lay  motionless  on  the  rock  gazing  intently 
into  the  gathering  gloom.     I  began  to  fear  that 


Hunting  the  Grisly  87 

it  would  grow  too  dark  to  shoot  before  the  grisly 
came. 

Suddenly  and  without  warning,  the  great  bear 
stepped  out  of  the  bushes  and  trod  across  the 
pine-needles  with  such  swift  and  silent  footsteps 
that  its  bulk  seemed  unreal.  It  was  very  cau- 
tious, continually  halting  to  peer  around;  and 
once  it  stood  up  on  its  hind  legs  and  looked  long 
down  the  valley  towards  the  red  west.  As  it 
reached  the  carcass  I  put  a  bullet  between  its 
shoulders.  It  rolled  over,  while  the  woods  re- 
sounded with  its  savage  roaring.  Immediately 
it  struggled  to  its  feet  and  staggered  off;  and 
fell  again  to  the  next  shot,  squalling  and  yelling. 
Twice  this  was  repeated;  the  brute  being  one  of 
those  bears  which  greet  every  wound  with  a  great 
outcry,  and  sometimes  seem  to  lose  their  feet 
when  hit — although  they  will  occasionally  fight 
as  savagely  as  their  more  silent  brethren.  In 
this  case  the  wounds  were  mortal,  and  the  bear 
died  before  reaching  the  edge  of  the  thicket. 

I  spent  much  of  the  fall  of  1889  hunting  on 
the  head-waters  of  the  Salmon  and  Snake  in  Idaho 
and  along  the  Montana  boundary  line  from  the 
Big  Hole  Basin  and  the  head  of  the  Wisdom 
River  to  the  neighborhood  of  Red  Rock  Pass  and 
to  the  north  and  west  of  Henry's  Lake.  During 
the  last  fortnight  my  companion  was  the  old 
mountain -man,  already  mentioned,  named  Grif- 


88  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

feth  or  Griffin — I  cannot  tell  which,  as  he  was 
always  called  either  "Hank"  or  "GriflE."  He 
was  a  crabbedly  honest  old  fellow,  and  a  very 
skilful  hiuiter ;  but  he  was  worn  out  with  age  and 
rheumatism,  and  his  temper  had  failed  even 
faster  than  his  bodily  strength.  He  showed  me 
a  greater  variety  of  game  than  I  had  ever  seen 
before  in  so  short  a  time;  nor  did  I  ever  before 
or  after  make  so  successful  a  hunt.  But  he  was 
an  exceedingly  disagreeable  companion  on  ac- 
count of  his  surly,  moody  ways.  I  generally  had 
to  get  up  first,  to  kindle  the  fire  and  make  ready 
breakfast,  and  he  was  very  quarrelsome.  Finally, 
during  my  absence  from  camp  one  day,  while  not 
very  far  from  Red  Rock  Pass,  he  found  my  whisky- 
flask,  which  I  kept  purely  for  emergencies,  and 
drank  all  the  contents.  When  I  came  back  he 
was  quite  drunk.  This  was  unbearable,  and  after 
some  high  words  I  left  him,  and  struck  oif  home- 
ward through  the  woods  on  my  own  account. 
We  had  with  us  four  pack  and  saddle  horses; 
and  of  these  I  took  a  very  intelligent  and  gentle 
little  bronco  mare,  which  possessed  the  invalu- 
able trait  of  always  staying  near  camp,  even  when 
not  hobbled.  I  was  not  hampered  with  much 
of  an  outfit,  having  only  my  buffalo  sleeping-bag, 
a  fur  coat,  and  my  washing  kit,  with  a  couple  of 
spare  pairs  of  socks  and  some  handkerchiefs.  A 
frying-pan,    some   salt,    flour,   baking-powder,    a 


Hunting  the  Grisly  89 

small  chunk  of  salt  pork,  and  a  hatchet,  made 
up  a  light  pack,  which,  with  the  bedding,  I  fas- 
tened across  the  stock  saddle  by  means  of  a  rope 
and  a  spare  packing  cinch.  My  cartridges  and 
knife  were  in  my  belt ;  my  compass  and  matches, 
as  always,  in  my  pocket.  I  walked,  while  the 
little  mare  followed  almost  like  a  dog,  often  with- 
out my  having  to  hold  the  lariat  which  served  as 
halter. 

The  country  was  for  the  most  part  fairly  open, 
as  I  kept  near  the  foothills  where  glades  and 
little  prairies  broke  the  pine  forest.  The  trees 
were  of  small  size.  There  was  no  regular  trail, 
but  the  course  was  easy  to  keep,  and  I  had  no 
trouble  of  any  kind  save  on  the  second  day.  That 
afternoon  I  was  following  a  stream  which  at  last 
"canyoned  up,"  that  is,  sank  to  the  bottom  of  a 
canyon-like  ravine  impassable  for  a  horse.  I 
started  up  a  side  valley,  intending  to  cross  from 
its  head  coulies  to  those  of  another  valley  which 
would  lead  in  below  the  canyon. 

However,  I  got  enmeshed  in  the  tangle  of  wind- 
ing valleys  at  the  foot  of  the  steep  mountains,  and 
as  dusk  was  coming  on  I  halted  and  camped  in  a 
little  open  spot  by  the  side  of  a  small,  noisy  brook, 
with  crystal  water.  The  place  was  carpeted  with 
soft,  wet,  green  moss,  dotted  red  with  the  kinni- 
kinic  berries,  and  at  its  edge,  imder  the  trees, 
where  the  ground  was  dry,   I  threw  down  the 


90  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

buf!alo-bed  on  the  mat  of  sweet-smelling  pine- 
needles.  Making  camp  took  but  a  moment.  I 
opened  the  pack,  tossed  the  bedding  on  a  smooth 
spot,  knee-haltered  the  little  mare,  dragged  up  a 
few  dry  logs,  and  then  strolled  off,  rifle  on  shoul- 
der, through  the  frosty  gloaming,  to  see  if  I  could 
pick  up  a  grouse  for  supper. 

For  half  a  mile  I  walked  quickly  and  silently 
over  the  pine-needles,  across  a  succession  of  slight 
ridges  separated  by  narrow,  shallow  valleys.  The 
forest  here  was  composed  of  lodge-pole  pines, 
which  on  the  ridges  grew  close  together,  with  tall 
slender  trunks,  while  in  the  valleys  the  growth  was 
more  open.  Though  the  sun  was  behind  the 
moimtains  there  was  yet  plenty  of  light  by  which 
to  shoot,  but  it  was  fading  rapidly. 

At  last,  as  I  was  thinking  of  turning  towards 
camp,  I  stole  up  to  the  crest  of  one  of  the  ridges, 
and  looked  over  into  the  valley  some  sixty  yards 
off.  Immediately  I  caught  the  loom  of  some 
large,  dark  object;  and  another  glance  showed 
me  a  big  grisly  walking  slowly  off  with  his  head 
down.  He  was  quartering  to  me,  and  I  fired  into 
his  flank,  the  bullet,  as  I  afterwards  found,  rang- 
ing forward  and  piercing  one  lung.  At  the  shot 
he  uttered  a  loud,  moaning  grunt  and  plimged 
forward  at  a  heavy  gallop,  while  I  raced  obliquely 
down  the  hill  to  cut  him  off.  After  going  a  few 
hundred  feet  he  reached  a  laurel  thicket,  some 


Hunting  the  Grisly  91 

thirty  yards  broad,  and  two  or  three  times  as 
long,  which  he  did  not  leave.  I  ran  up  to  the 
edge  and  there  halted,  not  liking  to  venture  into 
the  mass  of  twisted,  close-growing  stems  and 
glossy  foliage.  Moreover,  as  I  halted,  I  heard 
him  utter  a  peculiar,  savage  kind  of  whine  from 
the  heart  of  the  brush.  Accordingly,  I  began  to 
skirt  the  edge,  standing  on  tiptoe  and  gazing 
earnestly  to  see  if  I  could  not  catch  a  glimpse  of 
his  hide.  When  I  was  at  the  narrowest  part  of 
the  thicket,  he  suddenly  left  it  directly  opposite, 
and  then  wheeled  and  stood  broadside  to  me  on 
the  hillside,  a  little  above.  He  turned  his  head 
stiffly  towards  me;  scarlet  strings  of  froth  hung 
from  his  lips ;  his  eyes  burned  like  embers  in  the 
gloom. 

I  held  true,  aiming  behind  the  shoulder,  and 
my  bullet  shattered  the  point  or  lower  end  of  his 
heart,  taking  out  a  big  nick.  Instantly  the 
great  bear  turned  with  a  harsh  roar  of  fury  and 
challenge,  blowing  the  bloody  foam  from  his 
mouth  so  that  I  saw  the  gleam  of  his  white  fangs ; 
and  then  he  charged  straight  at  me,  crashing  and 
bounding  through  the  laurel  bushes,  so  that  it 
was  hard  to  aim.  I  waited  imtil  he  came  to  a 
fallen  tree,  raking  him  as  he  topped  it  with  a 
ball,  which  entered  his  chest  and  went  through 
the  cavity  of  his  body,  but  he  neither  swerved  nor 
flinched,  and  at  the  moment  I  did  not  know  that 


92  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

I  had  struck  him.  He  came  steadily  on,  and  in 
another  second  was  almost  upon  me.  I  fired  for 
his  forehead,  but  my  bullet  went  low,  entering 
his  open  mouth,  smashing  his  lower  jaw  and 
going  into  the  neck.  I  leaped  to  one  side  almost 
as  I  pulled  trigger;  and  through  the  hanging 
smoke  the  first  thing  I  saw  was  his  paw  as  he 
made  a  vicious  side  blow  at  me.  The  rush  of 
his  charge  carried  him  past.  As  he  struck  he 
lurched  forward,  leaving  a  pool  of  bright  blood 
where  his  muzzle  hit  the  ground;  but  he  recov- 
ered himself  and  made  two  or  three  jumps  on- 
wards, while  I  hurriedly  jammed  a  couple  of 
cartridges  into  the  magazine,  my  rifle  holding 
only  four,  all  of  which  I  had  fired.  Then  he 
tried  to  pull  up,  but  as  he  did  so  his  muscles 
seemed  suddenly  to  give  way,  his  head  drooped, 
and  he  rolled  over  and  over  like  a  shot  rabbit. 
Each  of  my  first  three  bullets  had  inflicted  a 
mortal  woimd. 

It  was  already  twilight,  and  I  merely  opened 
the  carcass,  and  then  trotted  back  to  camp.  Next 
morning  I  returned  and  with  much  labor  took  off 
the  skin.  The  fur  was  very  fine,  the  animal  being 
in  excellent  trim,  and  tmusually  bright-colored. 
Unfortimately,  in  packing  it  out  I  lost  the  skull, 
and  had  to  supply  its  place  with  one  of  plaster. 
The  beauty  of  the  trophy,  and  the  memory  of 
the   circumstances  under  which   I   procured  it, 


Hunting  the  Grisly  93 

make  me  value  it  perhaps  more  highly  than  any- 
other  in  my  house. 

This  is  the  only  instance  in  which  I  have  been 
regularly  charged  by  a  grisly.  On  the  whole,  the 
danger  of  himting  these  great  bears  has  been  much 
exaggerated.  At  the  beginning  of  the  present 
century,  when  white  hunters  first  encoimtered  the 
grisly,  he  was  doubtless  an  exceedingly  savage 
beast,  prone  to  attack  without  provocation,  and 
a  redoubtable  foe  to  persons  armed  with  the 
clumsy,  small-bore,  muzzle-loading  rifles  of  the 
day.  But  at  present  bitter  experience  has  taught 
him  caution.  He  has  been  htmted  for  sport,  and 
hunted  for  his  pelt,  and  hunted  for  the  boimty ,  and 
hunted  as  a  dangerous  enemy  to  stock,  imtil,  save 
in  the  very  wildest  districts,  he  has  learned  to  be 
more  wary  than  a  deer,  and  to  avoid  man's  pres- 
ence almost  as  carefully  as  the  most  timid  kind 
of  game.  Except  in  rare  cases,  he  will  not  at- 
tack of  his  own  accord,  and,  as  a  rule,  even  when 
wounded,  his  object  is  escape  rather  than  battle. 

Still,  when  fairly  brought  to  bay,  or  when 
moved  by  a  sudden  fit  of  imgovemable  anger, 
the  grisly  is  beyond  peradventure  a  very  dan- 
gerous antagonist.  The  first  shot,  if  taken  at  a 
bear  a  good  distance  off  and  previously  un wounded 
and  unharried,  is  not  usually  fraught  with  much 
danger,  the  startled  animal  being  at  the  outset 
bent  merely  on  flight.     It  is  always  hazardous, 


94  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

however,  to  track  a  wovinded  and  worried  grisly 
into  thick  cover,  and  the  man  who  habitually 
follows  and  kills  this  chief  of  American  game 
in  dense  timber,  never  abandoning  the  bloody 
trail  whithersoever  it  leads,  must  show  no  small 
degree  of  skill  and  hardihood,  and  must  not  too 
closely  cotmt  the  risk  to  life  or  limb.    Bears  differ 
widely  in  temper,  and  occasionally  one  may  be 
found  who  will  not  show  fight,  no  matter  how 
much  he  is  bullied ;  but,  as  a  rule,  a  hunter  must 
be  cautious  in  meddling  with  a  wounded  animal 
which  has  retreated  into  a  dense  thicket,  and  has 
been  once  or  twice  roused;    and  such  a  beast, 
when  it  does  turn,  will  usually  charge  again  and 
again,  and  fight  to  the  last  with  unconquerable 
ferocity.     The  short  distance  at  which  the  bear 
can  be  seen  through  the  imderbrush,  the  fury  of 
his  charge,  and  his  tenacity  of  life  make  it  neces- 
sary for  the  hunter  on  such  occasions  to  have 
steady  nerves  and  a  fairly  quick  and  accurate 
aim.     It  is  always  well  to  have  two  men  in  fol- 
lowing a  wounded  bear  under  such  conditions. 
This  is  not  necessary,  however,  and  a  good  hunter, 
rather  than  lose  his  quarry,  will,  under  ordinary 
circumstances,  follow  and  attack  it,  no  matter 
how  tangled  the  fastness  in  which  it  has  sought 
refuge ;  but  he  must  act  warily  and  with  the  ut- 
most caution  and  resolution,  if  he  wishes  to  escape 
a  terrible  and  probably  fatal  mauling.     An  ex- 


Hunting  the  Grisly  95 

perienced  hiinter  is  rarely  rash,  and  never  heed- 
less; he  will  not,  when  alone,  follow  a  woiinded 
bear  into  a  thicket  if,  by  the  exercise  of  patience, 
skill,  and  knowledge  of  the  game's  habits,  he  can 
avoid  the  necessity;  but  it  is  idle  to  talk  of  the 
feat  as  something  which  ought  in  no  case  to  be 
attempted.  While  danger  ought  never  to  be 
needlessly  incurred,  it  is  yet  true  that  the  keenest 
zest  in  sport  comes  from  its  presence,  and  from 
the  consequent  exercise  of  the  qualities  necessary 
to  overcome  it.  The  most  thrilling  moments  of 
an  American  htmter's  life  are  those  in  which,  with 
every  sense  on  the  alert,  and  with  nerves  stnmg 
to  the  highest  point,  he  is  following  alone  into 
the  heart  of  its  forest  fastness  the  fresh  and  bloody 
footprints  of  an  angered  grisly;  and  no  other 
triumph  of  American  hunting  can  compare  with 
the  victory  to  be  thus  gained. 

These  big  bears  will  not  ordinarily  charge  from 
a  distance  of  over  a  htmdred  yards;  but  there 
are  exceptions  to  this  rule.  In  the  fall  of  1890  my 
friend  Archibald  Rogers  was  hiinting  in  Wyom- 
ing, south  of  the  Yellowstone  Park,  and  killed 
seven  bears.  One,  an  old  he,  was  out  on  a  bare 
table-land,  grubbing  for  roots,  when  he  was 
spied.  It  was  early  in  the  afternoon,  and  the 
hunters,  who  were  on  a  high  moimtain  slope,  ex- 
amined him  for  some  time  through  their  powerful 
glasses  before  making  him  out  to  be  a  bear.    They 


9^  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

then  stalked  up  to  the  edge  of  the  wood  which 
fringed  the  table-land  on  one  side,  but  could  get 
no  nearer  than  about  three  hundred  yards,  the 
plains  being  barren  of  all  cover.  After  waiting 
for  a  couple  of  hours,  Rogers  risked  the  shot,  in 
despair  of  getting  nearer,  and  wounded  the  bear, 
though  not  very  seriously.  The  animal  made  off, 
almost  broadside  to,  and  Rogers  ran  forward  to 
intercept  it.  As  soon  as  it  saw  him  it  turned 
and  rushed  straight  for  him,  not  heeding  his 
second  shot,  and  evidently  bent  on  charging  home. 
Rogers  then  waited  until  it  was  within  twenty 
yards,  and  brained  it  with  his  third  bullet. 

In  fact,  bears  differ  individually  in  courage  and 
ferocity  precisely  as  men  do,  or  as  the  Spanish 
bulls,  of  which  it  is  said  that  not  more  than  one 
in  twenty  is  fit  to  stand  the  combat  of  the  arena. 
One  grisly  can  scarcely  be  bullied  into  resistance ; 
the  next  may  fight  to  the  end,  against  any  odds, 
without  flinching,  or  may  even  attack  unprovoked. 
Hence,  men  of  limited  experience  in  this  sport, 
generalizing  from  the  actions  of  the  two  or  three 
bears  each  has  happened  to  see  or  kill,  often  reach 
diametrically  opposite  conclusions  as  to  the  fight- 
ing temper  and  capacity  of  the  quarry.  Even 
old  himters — who,  indeed,  as  a  class,  are  very 
narrow-minded  and  opinionated — often  general- 
ize just  as  rashly  as  beginners.  One  will  por- 
tray all  bears  as  very  dangerous;    another  will 


Hunting  the  Grisly  97 

speak  and  act  as  if  he  deemed  them  of  no  more 
consequence  than  so  many  rabbits.  I  knew  one 
old  himter  who  had  killed  a  score  without  ever 
seeing  one  show  fight.  On  the  other  hand,  Dr. 
James  G.  Merrill,  U.  S.  A.,  who  has  had  about  as 
much  experience  with  bears  as  I  have  had,  in- 
forms me  that  he  has  been  charged  with  the 
utmost  determination  three  times.  In  each  case 
the  attack  was  delivered  before  the  bear  was 
woimded  or  even  shot  at,  the  animal  being 
roused  from  his  day-bed  by  the  approach  of  the 
himters,  and  charging  headlong  at  them  from  a 
distance  of  twenty  or  thirty  paces.  All  three 
bears  were  killed  before  they  could  do  any  dam- 
age. There  was  a  very  remarkable  incident 
connected  with  the  killing  of  one  of  them.  It 
occurred  in  the  northern  spurs  of  the  Bighorn 
range.  Dr.  Merrill,  in  company  with  an  old 
himter,  had  climbed  down  into  a  deep,  narrow 
canyon.  The  bottom  was  threaded  with  well- 
beaten  elk  trails.  While  following  one  of  these  the 
two  men  turned  a  comer  of  the  canyon  and  were 
instantly  charged  by  an  old  she-grisly,  so  close 
that  it  was  only  by  good  luck  that  one  of  the 
hurried  shots  disabled  her  and  caused  her  to 
tumble  over  a  cut  bank  where  she  was  easily 
finished.  They  foimd  that  she  had  been  lying 
directly  across  the  game  trail,  on  a  smooth  well- 
beaten  patch  of  bare  earth,  which  looked  as  if  it 

VOL.  II.— 7. 


98  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

had  been  dug  up,  refilled,  and  trampled  down. 
Looking  curiously  at  this  patch  they  saw  a  bit 
of  hide  only  partially  covered  at  one  end;  dig- 
ging down  they  found  the  body  of  a  well-grown 
grisly  cub.  Its  skull  had  been  crushed,  and  the 
brains  licked  out,  and  there  were  signs  of  other 
injuries.  The  hiinters  pondered  long  over  this 
strange  discovery,  and  hazarded  many  guesses  as 
to  its  meaning.  At  last  they  decided  that  prob- 
ably the  cub  had  been  killed,  and  its  brains  eaten 
out,  either  by  some  old  male  grisly  or  by  a  cou- 
gar, that  the  mother  had  returned  and  driven 
away  the  murderer,  and  that  she  had  then  buried 
the  body  and  lain  above  it,  waiting  to  wreak  her 
vengeance  on  the  first  passer-by. 

Old  Tazewell  Woody,  during  his  thirty  years' 
life  as  a  himter  in  the  Rockies  and  on  the  great 
plains,  killed  very  many  grislies.  He  always 
exercised  much  caution  in  dealing  with  them; 
and,  as  it  happened,  he  was  by  some  suitable 
tree  in  almost  every  case  when  he  was  charged. 
He  would  accordingly  climb  the  tree  (a  practice 
of  which  I  do  not  approve,  however),  and  the 
bear  would  look  up  at  him  and  pass  on  without 
stopping.  Once,  when  he  was  hunting  in  the 
motmtains  with  a  companion,  the  latter,  who  was 
down  in  a  valley,  while  Woody  was  on  the  hill- 
side, shot  at  a  bear.  The  first  thing  Woody 
knew  the  wounded  grisly,  running  up  hill,  was 


Hunting  the  Grisly  99 

almost  on  him  from  behind.  As  he  turned  it 
seized  his  rifle  in  its  jaws.  He  wrenched  the  rifle 
roimd,  while  the  bear  still  gripped  it,  and  pulled 
trigger,  sending  a  bullet  into  its  shoulder ;  where- 
upon it  struck  him  with  its  paw,  and  knocked 
him  over  the  rocks.  By  good  luck  he  fell  in  a 
snow  bank  and  was  not  hurt  in  the  least.  Mean- 
while, the  bear  went  on  and  they  never  got  it. 

Once  he  had  an  experience  with  a  bear  which 
showed  a  very  curious  mixture  of  rashness  and 
cowardice.  He  and  a  companion  were  camped  in 
a  little  tepee  or  wigwam,  with  a  bright  fire  in 
front  of  it,  lighting  up  the  night.  There  was  an 
inch  of  snow  on  the  groimd.  Just  after  they 
went  to  bed  a  grisly  came  close  to  camp.  Their 
dog  rushed  out  and  they  could  hear  it  bark  round 
in  the  darkness  for  nearly  an  hour;  then  the 
bear  drove  it  off  and  came  right  into  camp.  It 
went  close  to  the  fire,  picking  up  the  scraps  of 
meat  and  bread,  pulled  a  haunch  of  venison 
down  from  a  tree,  and  passed  and  repassed  in 
front  of  the  tepee,  paying  no  heed  whatever  to 
the  two  men,  who  crouched  in  the  doorway  talk- 
ing to  one  another.  Once  it  passed  so  close  that 
Woody  could  almost  have  touched  it.  Finally 
his  companion  fired  into  it,  and  off  it  ran,  badly 
wounded,  without  an  attempt  at  retaliation. 
Next  morning  they  followed  its  tracks  in  the 
snow,  and  found  it  a  quarter  of  a  mile  away.     It 


loo         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

was  near  a  pine  and  had  buried  itself  under  the 
loose  earth,  pine-needles,  and  snow;  Woody's 
companion  almost  walked  over  it,  and,  putting 
his  rifle  to  its  ear,  blew  out  its  brains. 

In  all  his  experience  Woody  had  personally 
seen  but  four  men  who  were  badly  mauled  by 
bears.  Three  of  these  were  merely  wounded. 
One  was  bitten  terribly  in  the  back.  Another 
had  an  arm  partially  chewed  off.  The  third  was 
a  man  named  George  Dow,  and  the  accident 
happened  to  him  on  the  Yellowstone,  about  the 
year  1878.  He  was  with  a  pack-animal  at  the 
time,  leading  it  on  a  trail  through  a  wood.  See- 
ing a  big  she -bear  with  cubs  he  yelled  at  her; 
whereat  she  ran  away,  but  only  to  cache  her  cubs, 
and  in  a  minute,  having  hidden  them,  came  rac- 
ing back  at  him.  His  pack-animal  being  slow,  he 
started  to  climb  a  tree;  but  before  he  could  get 
far  enough  up  she  caught  him,  almost  biting  a 
piece  out  of  the  calf  of  his  leg,  pulled  him  down, 
bit  and  cuffed  him  two  or  three  times,  and  then 
went  on  her  way. 

The  only  time  Woody  ever  saw  a  man  killed  by 
a  bear  was  once  when  he  had  given  a  touch  of 
variety  to  his  life  by  shipping  on  a  New  Bedford 
whaler  which  had  touched  at  one  of  the  Puget 
Soimd  ports.  The  whaler  went  up  to  a  part  of 
Alaska  where  bears  were  very  plentiful  and  bold. 
One  day  a  couple  of  boats'  crews  landed;    and 


Hunting  the  Grisly  loi 

the  men,  who  were  armed  only  with  an  occasional 
harpoon  or  lance,  scattered  over  the  beach,  one 
of  them,  a  Frenchman,  wading  into  the  water 
after  shell-fish.  Suddenly  a  bear  emerged  from 
some  bushes  and  charged  among  the  astonished 
sailors,  who  scattered  in  every  direction ;  but  the 
bear,  said  Woody,  '*  just  had  it  in  for  that  French- 
man," and  went  straight  at  him.  Shrieking  with 
terror  he  retreated  up  to  his  neck  in  the  water; 
but  the  bear  plunged  in  after  him,  caught  him, 
and  disembowelled  him.  One  of  the  Yankee 
mates  then  fired  a  bomb  lance  into  the  bear's 
hips,  and  the  savage  beast  hobbled  off  into  the 
dense  cover  of  the  low  scrub,  where  the  enraged 
sailor  folk  were  imable  to  get  at  it. 

The  truth  is  that  while  the  grisly  generally 
avoids  a  battle  if  possible,  and  often  acts  with 
great  cowardice,  it  is  never  safe  to  take  liberties 
with  him;  he  usually  fights  desperately  and  dies 
hard  when  woimded  and  cornered,  and  exceptional 
individuals  take  the  aggressive  on  small  provo- 
cation. 

During  the  years  I  lived  on  the  frontier  I  came 
in  contact  with  many  persons  who  had  been  se- 
verely mauled  or  even  crippled  for  life  by  grislies ; 
and  a  number  of  cases  where  they  killed  men 
outright  were  also  brought  under  my  ken.  Gen- 
erally, these  accidents,  as  was  natural,  occurred 
to  htmters  who  had  roused  or  woimded  the  game. 


I02         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

A  fighting  bear  sometimes  uses  his  claws  and 
sometimes  his  teeth.  I  have  never  known  one  to 
attempt  to  kill  an  antagonist  by  hugging,  in  spite 
of  the  popular  belief  to  this  effect;  though  he 
will  sometimes  draw  an  enemy  towards  him  with 
his  paws  the  better  to  reach  him  with  his  teeth, 
and  to  hold  him  so  that  he  cannot  escape  from 
the  biting.  Nor  does  the  bear  often  advance  on 
his  hind  legs  to  the  attack;  though,  if  the  man 
has  come  close  to  him  in  thick  underbrush,  or 
has  stumbled  on  him  in  his  lair  ima wares,  he 
will  often  rise  up  in  this  fashion  and  strike  a 
single  blow.  He  will  also  rise  in  clinching  with  a 
man  on  horseback.  In  1882,  a  mounted  Indian 
was  killed  in  this  manner  on  one  of  the  river  bot- 
toms some  miles  below  where  my  ranch-house 
now  stands,  not  far  from  the  junction  of  the 
Beaver  and  Little  Missouri.  The  bear  had  been 
himted  into  a  thicket  by  a  band  of  Indians,  in 
whose  company  my  informant,  a  white  squaw- 
man,  with  whom  I  afterward  did  some  trading, 
was  travelling.  One  of  them,  in  the  excitement  of 
the  pursuit,  rode  across  the  end  of  the  thicket ;  as 
he  did  so  the  great  beast  sprang  at  him  with 
wonderful  quickness,  rising  on  its  hind  legs  and 
knocking  over  the  horse  and  rider  with  a  single 
sweep  of  its  terrible  fore  paws.  It  then  turned  on 
the  fallen  man  and  tore  him  open,  and  though  the 
other  Indians  came  promptly  to  the  rescue  and 


Hunting  the  Grisly  103 

slew  his  assailant,  they  were  not  in  time  to  save 
their  comrade's  Hfe. 

A  bear  is  apt  to  rely  mainly  on  his  teeth  or 
claws,  according  to  whether  his  efforts  are  directed 
primarily  to  killing  his  foe  or  to  making  good  his 
own  escape.  In  the  latter  event  he  trusts  chiefly 
to  his  claws.  If  cornered,  he  of  course  makes  a 
rush  for  freedom,  and  in  that  case  he  downs  any 
man  who  is  in  his  way  with  a  sweep  of  his  great 
paw,  put  passes  on  without  stopping  to  bite  him. 
If  while  sleeping  or  resting  in  thick  brush  some 
one  suddenly  stumbles  on  him  close  up  he  pur- 
sues the  same  course,  less  from  anger  than  from 
fear,  being  surprised  and  startled.  Moreover,  if 
attacked  at  close  quarters  by  men  and  dogs  he 
strikes  right  and  left  in  defence. 

Sometimes  what  is  called  a  charge  is  rather  an 
effort  to  get  away.  In  localities  where  he  has 
been  himted,  a  bear,  like  every  other  kind  of 
game,  is  always  on  the  lookout  for  an  attack,  and 
is  prepared  at  any  moment  for  immediate  flight. 
He  seems  ever  to  have  in  his  mind,  whether  feed- 
ing, stinning  himself,  or  merely  roaming  aroimd, 
the  direction — usually  towards  the  thickest  cover 
or  most  broken  ground — in  which  he  intends  to 
run  if  molested.  When  shot  at  he  instantly  starts 
towards  this  place;  or  he  may  be  so  confused 
that  he  simply  rims  he  knows  not  whither;  and 
in  either  event  he  may  take  a  line  that  leads  almost 


I04  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

directly  to  or  by  the  hunter,  although  he  had  at 
first  not  thought  of  charging.  In  such  a  case  he 
usually  strikes  a  single  knock-down  blow  and  gal- 
lops on  without  halting,  though  that  one  blow  may 
have  taken  life.  If  the  claws  are  long  and  fairly 
sharp  (as  in  early  spring,  or  even  in  the  fall,  if  the 
animal  has  been  working  over  soft  ground)  they 
add  immensely  to  the  effect  of  the  blow,  for  they 
cut  like  blunt  axes.  Often,  however,  late  in  the 
season,  and  if  the  ground  has  been  dry  and  hard, 
or  rocky,  the  claws  are  worn  down  nearly  to  the 
quick,  and  the  blow  is  then  given  mainly  with  the 
tmderside  of  the  paw;  although  even  under  this 
disadvantage  a  thump  from  a  big  bear  will  down 
a  horse  or  smash  in  a  man's  breast.  The  hunter 
Hofer  once  lost  a  horse  in  this  manner.  He  shot 
at  and  wounded  a  bear  which  rushed  off,  as  ill 
luck  would  have  it,  past  the  place  where  his  horse 
was  picketed;  probably  more  in  fright  than  in 
anger,  it  struck  the  poor  beast  a  blow  which,  in 
the  end,  proved  mortal. 

If  a  bear  means  mischief  and  charges,  not  to 
escape  but  to  do  damage,  its  aim  is  to  grapple 
with  or  throw  down  its  foe  and  bite  him  to  death. 
The  charge  is  made  at  a  gallop,  the  animal  some- 
times coming  on  silently  with  the  mouth  shut, 
and  sometimes  with  the  jaws  open,  the  lips  drawn 
back  and  teeth  showing,  uttering  at  the  same 
time  a  succession  of  roars  or  of  savage  rasping 


Hunting  the  Grisly  105 

snarls.  Certain  bears  charge  without  any  bluster 
and  perfectly  straight ;  while  others  first  threaten 
and  bully,  and  even  when  charging  stop  to  growl, 
shake  the  head,  and  bite  at  a  bush  or  knock  holes 
in  the  grotind  with  their  fore  paws.  Again,  some 
of  them  charge  home  with  a  ferocious  resolution 
which  their  extreme  tenacity  of  life  renders  es- 
pecially dangerous;  while  others  can  be  turned 
or  driven  back  even  by  a  shot  which  is  not  mor- 
tal. They  show  the  same  variability  in  their 
behavior  when  woimded.  Often  a  big  bear,  es- 
pecially if  charging,  will  receive  a  bullet  in  per- 
fect silence,  without  flinching  or  seeming  to  pay 
any  heed  to  it;  while  another  will  cry  out  and 
tumble  about,  and  if  charging,  even  though  it 
may  not  abandon  the  attack,  will  pause  for  a 
moment  to  whine  or  bite  at  the  wound. 

Sometimes  a  single  bite  causes  death.  One  of 
the  most  successful  bear  hunters  I  ever  knew,  an 
old  fellow  whose  real  name  I  never  heard  as  he 
was  always  called  Old  Ike,  was  killed  in  this  way 
in  the  spring  or  early  summer  of  1886  on  one  of 
the  head-waters  of  the  Salmon.  He  was  a  very- 
good  shot,  had  killed  nearly  a  himdred  bears  with 
the  rifle,  and,  although  often  charged,  had  never 
met  with  any  accident,  so  that  he  had  grown  some- 
what careless.  On  the  day  in  question  he  had 
met  a  couple  of  mining  prospectors  and  was  trav- 
elling with  them,  when  a  grisly  crossed  his  path. 


io6         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

The  old  hunter  immediately  ran  after  it,  rapidly 
gaining,  as  the  bear  did  not  hurry  when  it  saw 
itself  pursued,  but  slouched  slowly  forwards,  oc- 
casionally turning  its  head  to  grin  and  growl. 
It  soon  went  into  a  dense  grove  of  young  spruce, 
and  as  the  hunter  reached  the  edge  it  charged 
fiercely  out.  He  fired  one  hasty  shot,  evidently 
woimding  the  animal,  but  not  seriously  enough 
to  stop  or  cripple  it;  and  as  his  two  companions 
ran  forward  they  saw  the  bear  seize  him  with  its 
wide-spread  jaws,  forcing  him  to  the  groimd. 
They  shouted  and  fired,  and  the  beast  abandoned 
the  fallen  man  on  the  instant  and  sullenly  re- 
treated into  the  spruce  thicket,  whither  they 
dared  not  follow  it.  Their  friend  was  at  his  last 
gasp;  for  the  whole  side  of  his  chest  had  been 
crushed  in  by  the  one  bite,  the  lungs  showing  be- 
tween the  rent  ribs. 

Very  often,  however,  a  bear  does  not  kill  a  man 
by  one  bite,  but  after  throwing  him  lies  on  him, 
biting  him  to  death.  Usually,  if  no  assistance  is 
at  hand,  such  a  man  is  doomed ;  although,  if  he 
pretends  to  be  dead,  and  has  the  nerve  to  lie 
quiet  under  very  rough  treatment,  it  is  just  possi- 
ble that  the  bear  may  leave  him  alive,  perhaps 
after  half  burying  what  it  believes  to  be  the  body. 
In  a  very  few  exceptional  instances,  men  of  ex- 
traordinary prowess  with  the  knife  have  suc- 
ceeded in  beating  off  a  bear,  and  even  in  mortally 


Hunting  the  Grisly  107 

wounding  it,  but  in  most  cases  a  single-handed 
struggle,  at  close  quarters,  with  a  grisly  bent  on 
mischief,  means  death. 

Occasionally,  the  bear,  although  vicious,  is  also 
frightened,  and  passes  on  after  giving  one  or  two 
bites;  and  frequently  a  man  who  is  knocked 
down  is  rescued  by  his  friends  before  he  is  killed, 
the  big  beast  mayhap  using  his  weapons  with 
clumsiness.  So  a  bear  may  kill  a  foe  with  a  single 
blow  of  its  mighty  forearm,  either  crushing  in  the 
head  or  chest  by  sheer  force  of  sinew,  or  else  tear- 
ing open  the  body  with  its  formidable  claws ;  and 
so  on  the  other  hand  he  may,  and  often  does, 
merely  disfigure  or  maim  the  foe  by  a  hurried 
stroke.  Hence  it  is  common  to  see  men  who 
have  escaped  the  clutches  of  a  grisly,  but  only  at 
the  cost  of  features  marred  beyond  recognition, 
or  a  body  rendered  almost  helpless  for  life. 
Almost  every  old  resident  of  western  Montana  or 
northern  Idaho  has  known  two  or  three  unfortu- 
nates who  have  suffered  in  this  manner.  I  have 
myself  met  one  such  man  in  Helena,  and  another 
in  Missoula;  both  were  living  at  least  as  late  as 
1889,  the  date  at  which  I  last  saw  them.  One 
had  been  partially  scalped  by  a  bear's  teeth ;  the 
animal  was  very  old,  and  so  the  fangs  did  not 
enter  the  skull.  The  other  had  been  bitten  across 
the  face,  and  the  wounds  never  entirely  healed, 
so  that  his  disfigured  visage  was  hideous  to  behold. 


io8         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

Most  of  these  accidents  occur  in  following  a 
woiinded  or  worried  bear  into  thick  cover;  and 
under  such  circumstances  an  animal  apparently 
hopelessly  disabled,  or  in  the  death  throes,  may 
with  a  last  effort  kill  one  or  more  of  its  assailants. 
In  1874,  my  wife's  uncle,  Captain  Alexander 
Moore,  U.  S.  A.,  and  my  friend  Captain  Bates, 
with  some  men  of  the  2d  and  3d  Cavalry,  were 
scouting  in  Wyoming,  near  the  Freezeout  Moun- 
tains. One  morning  they  roused  a  bear  in  the 
open  prairie  and  followed  it  at  full  speed  as  it 
ran  towards  a  small  creek.  At  one  spot  in  the 
creek  beavers  had  built  a  dam,  and,  as  usual  in 
such  places,  there  was  a  thick  growth  of  bushes 
and  willow  saplings.  Just  as  the  bear  reached 
the  edge  of  this  little  jimgle  it  was  struck  by 
several  balls,  both  of  its  fore  legs  being  broken. 
Nevertheless  it  managed  to  shove  itself  forward 
on  its  hind  legs,  and  partly  rolled,  partly  pushed 
itself  into  the  thicket,  the  bushes  though  low  be- 
ing so  dense  that  its  body  was  at  once  completely 
hidden.  The  thicket  was  a  mere  patch  of  brush, 
not  twenty  yards  across  in  any  direction.  The 
leading  troopers  reached  the  edge  almost  as  the 
bear  tumbled  in.  One  of  them,  a  tall  and  power- 
ful man  named  Miller,  instantly  dismounted  and 
prepared  to  force  his  way  in  among  the  dwarfed 
willows,  which  were  but  breast-high.  Among  the 
men  who  had  ridden  up  were  Moore  and  Bates, 


Hunting  the  Grisly  109 

and  also  the  two  famous  scouts,  Btiffalo  Bill — 
long  a  companion  of  Captain  Moore — and  Cali- 
fornia Joe,  Custer's  faithful  follower.  California 
Joe  had  spent  almost  all  his  life  on  the  plains  and 
in  the  moimtains,  as  a  hunter  and  Indian  fighter ; 
and  when  he  saw  the  trooper  about  to  rush  into 
the  thicket  he  called  out  to  him  not  to  do  so, 
warning  him  of  the  danger.  But  the  man  was  a 
very  reckless  fellow  and  he  answered  by  jeering 
at  the  old  himter  for  his  over-caution  in  being 
afraid  of  a  crippled  bear.  California  Joe  made  no 
further  effort  to  dissuade  him,  remarking  quietly : 
**  Very  well,  sonny,  go  in;  it 's  your  own  affair," 
Miller  then  leaped  off  the  bank  on  which  they 
stood  and  strode  into  the  thicket,  holding  his  rifle 
at  the  port.  Hardly  had  he  taken  three  steps 
when  the  bear  rose  in  front  of  him,  roaring  with 
rage  and  pain.  It  was  so  close  that  the  man  had 
no  chance  to  fire.  Its  fore  arms  hung  motionless, 
and  as  it  reared  unsteadily  on  its  hind  legs,  lung- 
ing forward  at  him,  he  seized  it  by  the  ears  and 
strove  to  hold  it  back.  His  strength  was  very 
great,  and  he  actually  kept  the  huge  head  from 
his  face  and  braced  himself  so  that  he  was  not 
overthrown ;  but  the  bear  twisted  its  muzzle  from 
side  to  side,  biting  and  tearing  the  man*s  arms 
and  shoulders.  Another  soldier  jumping  down 
slew  the  beast  with  a  single  bullet,  and  rescued 
his  comrade;  but  though  alive  he  was  too  badly 


no         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

hurt  to  recover  and  died  after  reaching  the  hos- 
pital. Buffalo  Bill  was  given  the  bear-skin,  and 
I  believe  has  it  now. 

The  instances  in  which  hunters  who  have  rashly 
followed  grislies  into  thick  cover  have  been  killed 
or  severely  mauled  might  be  multiplied  indefi- 
nitely. I  have  myself  known  of  eight  cases  in 
which  men  have  met  their  deaths  in  this  manner. 

It  occasionally  happens  that  a  cunning  old 
grisly  will  lie  so  close  that  the  hunter  almost 
steps  on  him;  and  he  then  rises  suddenly  with 
a  loud,  coughing  growl  and  strikes  down  or  seizes 
the  man  before  the  latter  can  fire  off  his  rifle. 
More  rarely  a  bear  which  is  both  vicious  and 
crafty  deliberately  permits  the  hunter  to  approach 
fairly  near  to,  or  perhaps  pass  by,  its  hiding-place, 
and  then  suddenly  charges  him  with  such  rapidity 
that  he  has  barely  time  for  the  most  hurried  shot. 
The  danger  in  such  a  case  is  of  course  great. 

Ordinarily,  however,  even  in  the  brush,  the 
bear's  object  is  to  slink  away,  not  to  fight,  and 
very  many  are  killed  even  under  the  most  unfa- 
vorable circumstances  without  accident.  If  an  un- 
wounded  bear  thinks  itself  unobserved  it  is  not 
apt  to  attack;  and  in  thick  cover  it  is  really  as- 
tonishing to  see  how  one  of  these  large  animals 
can  hide,  and  how  closely  it  will  lie  when  there  is 
danger.  About  twelve  miles  below  my  ranch 
there  are  some    large    river  bottoms  and  creek 


Hunting  the  Grisly  1 1 1 

bottoms  covered  with  a  matted  mass  of  cotton- 
wood,  box-alders,  bullberry  bushes,  rosebushes, 
ash,  wild  plums,  and  other  bushes.  These  bot- 
toms have  harbored  bears  ever  since  I  first  saw 
them;  but,  though  often  in  company  with  a  large 
party,  I  have  repeatedly  beaten  through  them, 
and  though  we  must  at  times  have  been  very 
near  indeed  to  the  game,  we  never  so  much  as 
heard  it  run. 

When  bears  are  shot,  as  they  usually  must  be, 
in  open  timber  or  on  the  bare  mountain,  the  risk 
is  very  much  less.  Htmdreds  may  thus  be  killed 
with  comparatively  little  danger ;  yet  even  imder 
these  circumstances  they  will  often  charge,  and 
sometimes  make  their  charge  good.  The  spice  of 
danger,  especially  to  a  man  armed  with  a  good 
repeating  rifle,  is  only  enough  to  add  zest  to  the 
chase,  and  the  chief  triumph  is  in  outwitting 
the  wary  quarry  and  getting  within  range.  Ordi- 
narily the  only  excitement  is  in  the  stalk,  the  bear 
doing  nothing  more  than  to  keep  a  keen  lookout 
and  manifest  the  utmost  anxiety  to  get  away. 
As  is  but  natural,  accidents  occasionally  occur; 
yet  they  are  usually  due  more  to  some  failure  in 
man  or  weapon  than  to  the  prowess  of  the  bear. 
A  good  hunter  whom  I  once  knew,  at  a  time  when 
he  was  living  in  Butte,  received  fatal  injuries  from 
a  bear  he  attacked  in  open  woodland.  The  beast 
charged  after  the  first  shot,  but  slackened  its  pace 


112  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

on  coming  almost  up  to  the  man.  The  latter's 
gun  jambed,  and  as  he  was  endeavoring  to  work 
it  he  kept  stepping  slowly  back,  facing  the  bear 
which  followed  a  few  yards  distant,  snarling  and 
threatening.  Unfortunately,  while  thus  walking 
backwards  the  man  struck  a  dead  log  and  fell 
over  it,  whereupon  the  beast  instantly  sprang  on 
him  and  mortally  wounded  him  before  help  ar- 
rived. 

On  rare  occasions,  men  who  are  not  at  the  time 
hunting  it,  fall  victims  to  the  grisly.  This  is 
usually  because  they  stumble  on  it  unawares  and 
the  animal  attacks  them  more  in  fear  than  in 
anger.  One  such  case,  resulting  fatally,  occurred 
near  my  own  ranch.  The  man  walked  almost 
over  a  bear  while  crossing  a  little  point  of  brush, 
in  a  bend  of  the  river,  and  was  brained  with  a 
single  blow  of  the  paw.  In  another  instance 
which  came  to  my  knowledge,  the  man  escaped 
with  a  shaking  up,  and  without  even  a  fright. 
His  name  was  Perkins,  and  he  was  out  gathering 
huckleberries  in  the  woods  on  a  mountain-side 
near  Pend  Oreille  Lake.  Suddenly  he  was  sent 
flying  head  over  heels,  by  a  blow  which  com- 
pletely knocked  the  breath  out  of  his  body ;  and 
so  instantaneous  was  the  whole  affair  that  all 
he  could  ever  recollect  about  it  was  getting  a 
vague  glimpse  of  the  bear  just  as  he  was  bowled 
over.     When  he  came  to  he  found  himself  lying 


Hunting  the  Grisly  113 

some  distance  down  the  hillside,  much  shaken, 
and  without  his  berry-pail,  which  had  rolled  a 
hundred  yards  below  him,  but  not  otherwise  the 
worse  for  his  misadventure;  while  the  footprints 
showed  that  the  bear,  after  delivering  the  single 
hurried  stroke  at  the  -unwitting  disturber  of  its 
day-dreams,  had  run  off  up  hill  as  fast  as  it  was 
able. 

A  she-bear  with  cubs  is  a  proverbially  danger- 
ous beast ;  yet  even  under  such  conditions  differ- 
ent grislies  act  in  directly  opposite  ways.  Some 
she-grislies,  when  their  cubs  are  young,  but  are 
able  to  follow  them  about,  seem  always  worked 
up  to  the  highest  pitch  of  anxious  and  jealous 
rage,  so  that  they  are  likely  to  attack  improvoked 
any  intruder  or  even  passer-by.  Others,  when 
threatened  by  the  hunter,  leave  their  cubs  to 
their  fate  without  a  visible  qualm  of  any  kind, 
and  seem  to  think  only  of  their  own  safety. 

In  1882,  Mr.  Caspar  W.  Whitney,  now  of  New 
York,  met  with  a  very  singular  adventure  with  a 
she-bear  and  cub.  He  was  in  Harvard  when  I 
was,  but  left  it  and,  like  a  good  many  other 
Harvard  men  of  that  time,  took  to  cow-punching 
in  the  West.  He  went  on  a  ranch  in  Rio  Arriba 
County,  New  Mexico,  and  was  a  keen  hunter, 
especially  fond  of  the  chase  of  cougar,  bear,  and 
elk.  One  day  while  riding  a  stony  mountain  trail 
he  saw  a  little  grisly  cub  watching  him  from  the 

VOL.  II. — 8. 


114         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

chaparral  above,  and  he  dismounted  to  try  to 
capture  it;  his  rifle  was  a  40-90  Sharp's.  Just 
as  he  neared  the  cub,  he  heard  a  growl  and 
caught  a  glimpse  of  the  old  she,  and  he  at  once 
turned  up  hill,  and  stood  under  some  tall,  quak- 
ing aspens.  From  this  spot  he  fired  at  and 
wounded  the  she,  then  seventy  yards  off;  and 
she  charged  furiously.  He  hit  her  again,  but  as 
she  kept  coming  like  a  thunderbolt  he  climbed 
hastily  up  an  aspen,  dragging  his  gun  with  him, 
as  it  had  a  strap.  When  the  bear  reached  the 
foot  of  the  aspen  she  reared,  and  bit  and  clawed 
the  slender  trimk,  shaking  it  for  a  moment,  and 
he  shot  her  through  the  eye.  Off  she  sprang  for 
a  few  yards,  and  then  spun  round  a  dozen  times, 
as  if  dazed  or  partially  stunned ;  for  the  bullet 
had  not  touched  the  brain.  Then  the  vindictive 
and  resolute  beast  came  back  to  the  tree  and 
again  reared  up  against  it;  this  time  to  receive 
a  bullet  that  dropped  her  lifeless.  Mr.  Whitney 
then  climbed  down  and  walked  to  where  the 
cub  had  been  sitting  as  a  looker-on.  The  little 
animal  did  not  move  until  he  reached  out  his 
hand;  when  it  suddenly  struck  at  him  like  an 
angry  cat,  dove  into  the  bushes,  and  was  seen 
no  more. 

In  the  summer  of  1888,  an  old-time  trapper, 
named  Charley  Norton,  while  on  Loon  Creek,  of 
the  middle  fork  of  the  Salmon,  meddled  with  a  she 


Hunting  the  Grisly  115 

and  her  cubs.  She  ran  at  him  and  with  one  blow 
of  her  paw  almost  knocked  off  his  lower  jaw;  yet 
he  recovered,  and  was  alive  when  I  last  heard  of 
him. 

Yet  the  very  next  spring  the  cowboys  with  my 
own  wagon  on  the  Little  Missouri  round-up  killed 
a  mother  bear  which  made  but  little  more  fight 
than  a  coyote.  She  had  two  cubs,  and  was  sur- 
prised in  the  early  morning  on  the  prairie  far 
from  cover.  There  were  eight  or  ten  cowboys 
together  at  the  time,  just  starting  off  on  a  long 
circle,  and  of  course  they  all  got  down  their  ropes 
in  a  second,  and  putting  spurs  to  their  fiery  little 
horses  started  toward  the  bears  at  a  run,  shouting 
and  swinging  their  loops  roimd  their  heads.  For 
a  moment  the  old  she  tried  to  bluster  and  made 
a  half-hearted  threat  at  charging;  but  her  cour- 
age failed  before  the  rapid  onslaught  of  her  yell- 
ing, rope-swinging  assailants;  and  she  took  to 
her  heels  and  galloped  off,  leaving  the  cubs  to 
shift  for  themselves.  The  cowboys  were  close 
behind,  however,  and  after  half  a  mile's  run  she 
bolted  into  a  shallow  cave  or  hole  in  the  side  of  a 
butte,  where  she  stayed  cowering  and  growling, 
until  one  of  the  men  leaped  off  his  horse,  ran  up 
to  the  edge  of  the  hole,  and  killed  her  with  a 
single  bullet  from  his  revolver,  fired  so  close  that 
the  powder  burned  her  hair.  The  unfortunate 
cubs  were  roped,  and  then  so  dragged  about  that 


ii6  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

they  were  speedily  killed  instead  of  being  brought 
alive  to  camp,  as  ought  to  have  been  done. 

In  the  cases  mentioned  above,  the  grisly  at- 
tacked only  after  having  been  itself  assailed,  or 
because  it  feared  an  assault  for  itself  or  for  its 
young.  In  the  old  days,  however,  it  may  almost 
be  said  that  a  grisly  was  more  apt  to  attack  than 
to  flee.  Lewis  and  Clarke  and  the  early  explor- 
ers who  immediately  succeeded  them,  as  well  as 
the  first  hunters  and  trappers,  the  "  Rocky  Moun- 
tain men"  of  the  early  decades  of  the  present 
century,  were  repeatedly  assailed  in  this  manner; 
and  not  a  few  of  the  bear-hunters  of  that  period 
found  that  it  was  unnecessary  to  take  much 
trouble  about  approaching  their  quarry,  as  the 
grisly  was  usually  prompt  to  accept  the  challenge 
and  to  advance  of  its  own  accord,  as  soon  as  it  dis- 
covered the  foe.  All  this  is  changed  now.  Yet 
even  at  the  present  day  an  occasional  vicious  old 
bear  may  be  found,  in  some  far-off  and  little-trod 
fastness,  which  still  keeps  up  the  former  habit  of 
its  kind.  All  old  hunters  have  tales  of  this  sort 
to  relate,  the  prowess,  cimning,  strength,  and 
ferocity  of  the  grisly  being  favorite  topics  for 
camp-fire  talk  throughout  the  Rockies ;  but  in 
most  cases  it  is  not  safe  to  accept  these  stories 
without  careful  sifting. 

Still,  it  is  just  as  unsafe  to  reject  them  all. 
One  of  my  own  cowboys  was  once  attacked  by 


Hunting  the  Grisly  117 

a  grisly,  seemingly  in  pure  wantonness.  He  was 
riding  up  a  creek  bottom,  and  had  just  passed  a 
clump  of  rose  and  bullberry  bushes  when  his 
horse  gave  such  a  leap  as  almost  to  unseat  him, 
and  then  darted  madly  forward.  Turning  round 
in  the  saddle  to  his  utter  astonishment  he  saw  a 
large  bear  galloping  after  him,  at  the  horse's 
heels.  For  a  few  jumps  the  race  was  close,  then 
the  horse  drew  away  and  the  bear  wheeled  and 
went  into  a  thicket  of  wild  plums.  The  amazed 
and  indignant  cowboy,  as  soon  as  he  could  rein  in 
his  steed,  drew  his  revolver  and  rode  back  to  and 
around  the  thicket,  endeavoring  to  provoke  his 
late  pursuer  to  come  out  and  try  conclusions  on 
more  equal  terms ;  but  prudent  Ephraim  had  ap- 
parently repented  of  his  freak  of  ferocious  bra- 
vado, and  declined  to  leave  the  secure  shelter  of 
the  jungle. 

Other  attacks  are  of  a  much  more  explicable 
nature.  Mr.  Huffman,  the  photographer  of  Miles 
City,  informed  me  that  once  when  butchering 
some  slaughtered  elk  he  was  charged  twice  by  a 
she-bear  and  two  well-grown  cubs.  This  was  a 
piece  of  sheer  bullying,  undertaken  solely  with 
the  purpose  of  driving  away  the  man  and  feast- 
ing on  the  carcasses ;  for  in  each  charge  the  three 
bears,  after  advancing  with  much  blustering, 
roaring,  and  growling,  halted  just  before  com- 
ing to   close   quarters.     In   another  instance   a 


ii8  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

gentleman    I   once   knew,    a   Mr.    S.    Carr,    was 
charged  by  a  grisly  from  mere  ill-temper  at  being 
disturbed  at  meal-time.     The  man  was  riding  up 
a  valley;    and  the  bear  was  at  an  elk  carcass, 
near  a  clump  of  firs.     As  soon  as  it  became  aware 
of  the  approach  of  the  horseman,  while  he  was 
yet  over  a  hundred  yards  distant,  it  jumped  on 
the  carcass,  looked  at  him  a  moment,  and  then 
ran  straight  for  him.     There  was  no  particular 
reason  why  it  should  have  charged,  for  it  was  fat 
and  in  good  trim,  though  when  killed  its  head 
showed  scars  made  by  the  teeth  of  rival  grislies. 
Apparently  it  had  been  living  so  well,  principally 
on  flesh,  that  it  had  become  quarrelsome;    and 
perhaps  its  not  over  sweet  disposition  had  been 
soured  by  combats  with  others  of  its  own  kind. 
In  yet  another  case,  a  grisly  charged  with  even 
less  excuse.     An  old  trapper,  from  whom  I  oc- 
casionally bought  fur,  was  toiling  up  a  mountain 
pass  when  he  spied  a  big  bear  sitting  on  his 
haunches  on  the    hillside    above.     The   trapper 
shouted  and  waved  his  cap;    whereupon,  to  his 
amazement,  the  bear  uttered  a  loud  "wough" 
and  charged  straight  down  on  him — only  to  fall 
a  victim  to  misplaced  boldness. 

I  am  even  inclined  to  think  that  there  have 
been  wholly  exceptional  occasions  when  a  grisly 
has  attacked  a  man  with  the  deliberate  purpose 
of  making  a  meal  of  him;  when,  in  other  words, 


Hunting  the  Grisly  119 

it  has  started  on  the  career  of  a  man-eater.  i\t 
least,  on  any  other  theory  I  find  it  difficult  to  ac- 
count for  an  attack  which  once  came  to  my  know- 
ledge. I  was  at  Sand  Point,  on  Pend  Oreille  Lake, 
and  met  some  French  and  Meti  trappers,  then  in 
town  with  their  bales  of  beaver,  otter,  and  sable. 
One  of  them,  who  gave  his  name  as  Baptiste  La- 
moche,  had  his  head  twisted  over  to  one  side,  the 
result  of  the  bite  of  a  bear.  When  the  accident 
occurred  he  was  out  on  a  trapping  trip  with  two 
companions.  They  had  pitched  camp  right  on 
the  shore  of  a  cove  in  a  little  lake,  and  his  com- 
rades were  off  fishing  in  a  dugout  or  pirogue.  He 
himself  was  sitting  near  the  shore,  by  a  little 
lean-to,  watching  some  beaver  meat  which  was 
sizzling  over  the  dying  embers.  Suddenly,  and 
without  warning,  a  great  bear,  which  had  crept 
silently  up  beneath  the  shadows  of  the  tall  ever- 
greens, rushed  at  him,  with  a  guttural  roar,  and 
seized  him  before  he  could  rise  to  his'  feet.  It 
grasped  him  with  its  jaws  at  the  junction  of  the 
neck  and  shoulder,  making  the  teeth  meet  through 
bone,  sinew,  and  muscle;  and,  turning,  tracked 
off  towards  the  forest,  dragging  with  it  the  help- 
less and  paralyzed  victim.  Luckily,  the  two  men 
in  the  canoe  had  just  paddled  round  the  point,  in 
sight  of,  and  close  to,  camp.  The  man  in  the 
bow,  seeing  the  plight  of  their  comrade,  seized 
his  rifle  and  fired  at  the  bear.     The  bullet  went 


I20         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

through  the  beast's  lungs,  and  it  forthwith 
dropped  its  prey,  and  running  off  some  two 
hiindred  yards,  lay  down  on  its  side  and  died. 
The  rescued  man  recovered  full  health  and 
strength,  but  never  again  carried  his  head 
straight. 

Old  hunters  and  mountain-men  tell  many 
stories,  not  only  of  malicious  grislies  thus  at- 
tacking men  in  camp,  but  also  of  their  even 
dogging  the  footsteps  of  some  solitary  hunter 
and  killing  him  when  the  favorable  opportunity 
occurs.  Most  of  these  tales  are  mere  fables ;  but 
it  is  possible  that  in  altogether  exceptional  in- 
stances they  rest  on  a  foundation  of  fact.  One 
old  hunter  whom  I  knew  told  me  such  a  story. 
He  was  a  truthful  old  fellow,  and  there  was  no 
doubt  that  he  believed  what  he  said,  and  that 
his  companion  was  actually  killed  by  a  bear ;  but 
it  is  probable  that  he  was  mistaken  in  reading 
the  signs  of  his  comrade's  fate,  and  that  the 
latter  was  not  dogged  by  the  bear  at  all,  but 
stumbled  on  him  and  was  slain  in  the  surprise  of 
the  moment. 

At  any  rate,  cases  of  wanton  assaults  by  grislies 
are  altogether  out  of  the  common.  The  ordinary 
hunter  may  live  out  his  whole  life  in  the  wilder- 
ness and  never  know  aught  of  a  bear  attacking  a 
man  unprovoked ;  and  the  great  majority  of  bears 
are  shot  under  circumstances  of  no  special  ex- 


Hunting  the  Grisly  121 

citement,  as  they  either  make  no  fight  at  all,  or, 
if  they  do  fight,  are  killed  before  there  is  any  risk 
of  their  doing  damage.  If  surprised  on  the  plains, 
at  some  distance  from  timber  or  from  badly  bro- 
ken ground,  it  is  no  uncommon  teat  for  a  single 
horseman  to  kill  them  with  a  revolver.  Twice  of 
late  years  it  has  been  performed  in  the  neighbor- 
hood of  my  ranch.  In  both  instances  the  men 
were  not  hunters  out  after  game,  but  simply  cow- 
boys, riding  over  the  range  in  early  morning  in 
pursuance  of  their  ordinary  duties  among  the 
cattle.  I  knew  both  men  and  have  worked  with 
them  on  the  round-up.  Like  most  cowboys  they 
carried  44-calibre  Colt  revolvers,  and  were  accus- 
tomed to  and  fairly  expert  in  their  use,  and  they 
were  mounted  on  ordinary  cowrpbnies — quick, 
wiry,  plucky  little  beasts.  In  one  case  the  bear 
was  seen  from  quite  a  distance,  lounging  across 
a  broad  table-land.  The  cowboy,  by  taking  ad- 
vantage of  a  winding  and  rather  shallow  coulie, 
got  quite  close  to  him.  He  then  scrambled  out 
of  the  coulie,  put  spurs  to  his  pony,  and  raced  up 
to  within  fifty  yards  of  the  astonished  bear  ere 
the  latter  quite  understood  what  it  was  that  was 
running  at  him  through  the  gray  dawn.  He 
made  no  attempt  at  fight,  but  ran  at  top  speed 
towards  a  clump  of  brush  not  far  off  at  the  head 
of  a  creek.  Before  he  could  reach  it,  however, 
the  galloping  horseman  was  alongside,  and  fired 


1-22         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

three  shots  into  his  broad  back.  He  did  not  turn, 
but  ran  on  into  the  bushes  and  then  fell  over  and 
died. 

In  the  other  case  the  cowboy,  a  Texan,  was 
mounted  on  a  good  cutting  pony,  a  spirited, 
handy,  agile  little  animal,  but  excitable,  and 
with  a  habit  of  dancing,  which  rendered  it  diffi- 
cult to  shoot  from  its  back.  The  man  was  with 
the  round-up  wagon,  and  had  been  sent  off  by 
himself  to  make  a  circle  through  some  low,  barren 
buttes,  where  it  was  thought  not  more  than  a 
few  head  of  stock  would  be  found.  On  round- 
ing the  comer  of  a  small  washout  he  almost  ran 
over  a  bear  which  was  feeding  on  the  carcass  of 
a  steer  that  had  died  in  an  alkali  hole.  After  a 
moment  of  stunned  surprise  the  bear  hurled  him- 
self at  the  intruder  with  furious  impetuosity; 
while  the  cowboy,  wheeling  his  horse  on  its 
haunches  and  dashing  in  the  spurs,  carried  it  just 
clear  of  his  assailant's  headlong  rush.  After  a 
few  springs  he  reined  in  and  once  more  wheeled 
half  round,  having  drawn  his  revolver,  only  to 
find  the  bear  again  charging  and  almost  on  him. 
This  time  he  fired  into  it,  near  the  joining  of  the 
neck  and  shoulder,  the  bullet  going  downwards 
into  the  chest  hollow ;  and  again  by  a  quick  dash 
to  one  side  he  just  avoided  the  rush  of  the  beast 
and  the  sweep  of  its  mighty  fore  paw.  The  bear 
then  halted  for  a  minute,  and  he  rode  close  by  it 


Hunting  the  Grisly  123 

at  a  run,  firing  a  couple  of  shots,  which  brought 
on  another  resolute  charge.  The  ground  was 
somewhat  rugged  and  broken,  but  his  pony  was 
as  quick  on  its  feet  as  a  cat,  and  never  stumbled, 
even  when  going  at  full  speed  to  avoid  the  bear's 
first  mad  rushes.  It  speedily  became  so  excited, 
however,  as  to  render  it  almost  impossible  for  the 
rider  to  take  aim.  Sometimes  he  would  come  up 
close  to  the  bear  and  wait  for  it  to  charge,  which 
it  would  do,  first  at  a  trot,  or  rather  rack,  and 
then  at  a  lumbering  but  swift  gallop;  and  he 
would  fire  one  or  two  shots  before  being  forced 
to  run.  At  other  times,  if  the  bear  stood  still  in 
a  good  place,  he  would  run  by  it,  firing  as  he 
rode.  He  spent  many  cartridges  and,  though 
most  of  them  were  wasted,  occasionally  a  bullet 
went  home.  The  bear  fought  with  the  most  sav- 
age courage,  champing  its  bloody  jaws,  roaring 
with  rage,  and  looking  the  very  incarnation  of 
evil  fury.  For  some  minutes  it  made  no  effort 
to  flee,  either  charging  or  standing  at  bay.  Then 
it  began  to  move  slowly  towards  a  patch  of  ash 
and  wild  plums  in  the  head  of  a  coulie,  some  dis- 
tance off.  Its  pursuer  rode  after  it,  and  when 
close  enough  would  push  by  it  and  fire,  while  the 
bear  would  spin  quickly  round  and  charge  as 
fiercely  as  ever,  though  evidently  beginning  to 
grow  weak.  At  last,  when  still  a  couple  of  hun- 
dred yards  from  cover,  the  man  found  he  had 


124         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

used  up  all  his  cartridges,  and  then  merely  fol- 
lowed at  a  safe  distance.  The  bear  no  longer 
paid  heed  to  him,  but  walked  slowly  forwards, 
swaying  its  great  head  from  side  to  side,  while 
the  blood  streamed  from  between  its  half -opened 
jaws.  On  reaching  the  cover  he  could  tell  by  the 
waving  of  the  bushes  that  it  walked  to  the  middle 
and  then  halted.  A  few  minutes  afterwards  some 
of  the  other  cowboys  rode  up,  having  been  at- 
tracted by  the  incessant  firing.  They  surrounded 
the  thicket,  firing  and  throwing  stones  into  the 
bushes.  Finally,  as  nothing  moved,  they  ven- 
tured in  and  found  the  indomitable  grisly  warrior 
lying  dead. 

Cowboys  delight  in  nothing  so  much  as  the 
chance  to  show  their  skill  as  riders  and  ropers; 
and  they  always  try  to  ride  down  and  rope  any 
wild  animal  they  come  across  in  favorable  ground 
and  close  enough  up.  If  a  party  of  them  meets  a 
bear  in  the  open  they  have  great  fun;  and  the 
struggle  between  the  shouting,  galloping  rough- 
riders  and  their  shaggy  quarry  is  full  of  wild  ex- 
citement and  not  imaccompanied  by  danger.  The 
bear  often  throws  the  noose  from  his  head  so  rap- 
idly that  it  is  a  difficult  matter  to  catch  him ;  and 
his  frequent  charges  scatter  his  tormentors  in 
every  direction  while  the  horses  become  wild  with 
fright  over  the  roaring,  bristling  beast — for  horses 
seem  to  dread  a  bear  more  than  any  other  animal. 


Hunting  the  Grisly  125 

If  the  bear  cannot  reach  cover,  however,  his  fate 
is  sealed.  Sooner  or  later,  the  noose  tightens 
over  one  leg,  or  perchance  over  the  neck  and  fore 
paw,  and  as  the  rope  straightens  with  a  ''pluck," 
the  horse  braces  itself  desperately  and  the  bear 
tumbles  over.  Whether  he  regains  his  feet  or 
not  the  cowboy  keeps  the  rope  taut;  soon  an- 
other noose  tightens  over  a  leg,  and  the  bear  is 
speedily  rendered  helpless. 

I  have  known  of  these  feats  being  performed 
several  times  in  northern  Wyoming,  although 
never  in  the  immediate  neighborhood  of  my  ranch. 
Mr.  Archibald  Rogers's  cowhands  have  in  this 
manner  caught  several  bears  on  or  near  his  ranch 
on  the  Gray  Bull,  which  flows  into  the  Bighorn; 
and  those  of  Mr.  G.  B.  Grinnell  have  also  occa- 
sionally done  so.  Any  set  of  moderately  good 
ropers  and  riders,  who  are  accustomed  to  back 
one  another  up  and  act  together,  can  accomplish 
the  feat  if  they  have  smooth  ground  and  plenty 
of  room.  It  is,  however,  indeed  a  feat  of  skill 
and  daring  for  a  single  man;  and  yet  I  have 
known  of  more  than  one  instance  in  which  it  has 
been  accomplished  by  some  reckless  knight  of  the 
rope  and  the  saddle.  One  such  occurred  in  1887 
on  the  Flathead  Reservation,  the  hero  being  a 
half-breed,  and  another  in  1890  at  the  mouth  of 
the  Bighorn,  where  a  cowboy  roped,  boimd,  and 
killed  a  large  bear  single-handed. 


126         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

My  friend,  General  "Red"  Jackson,  of  Belle- 
meade,  in  the  pleasant  mid-county  of  Tennessee, 
once  did  a  feat  which  casts  into  the  shade  even 
the  feats  of  the  men  of  the  lariat.  General  Jack- 
son, who  afterwards  became  one  of  the  ablest 
and  most  renowned  of  the  Confederate  cavalry 
leaders,  was  at  the  time  a  young  officer  in  the 
Mounted  Rifle  Regiment,  now  known  as  the  3d 
United  States  Cavalry.  It  was  some  years  before 
the  Civil  War,  and  the  regiment  was  on  duty  in  the 
Southwest,  then  the  debatable  land  of  Comanche 
and  Apache.  While  on  a  scout  after  hostile  In- 
dians, the  troops  in  their  march  roused  a  large 
grisly  which  sped  off  across  the  plain  in  front  of 
them.  Strict  orders  had  been  issued  against  fir- 
ing at  game,  because  of  the  nearness  of  the  In- 
dians. Young  Jackson  was  a  man  of  great 
strength,  a  keen  swordsman,  who  always  kept  the 
finest  edge  on  his  blade,  and  he  was  on  a  swift 
and  mettled  Kentucky  horse,  which  luckily  had 
but  one  eye.  Riding  at  full  speed  he  soon  over- 
took the  quarry.  As  the  horse-hoofs  sounded 
nearer,  the  grim  bear  ceased  its  flight  and,  whirl- 
ing round,  stood  at  bay,  raising  itself  on  its  hind 
legs  and  threatening  its  pursuer  with  bared 
fangs  and  spread  claws.  Carefully  riding  his 
horse  so  that  its  blind  side  should  be  towards 
the  monster,  the  cavalryman  swept  by  at  a  run, 
handling  his  steed  with  such  daring  skill  that  he 


Hunting  the  Grisly  127 

just  cleared  the  blow  of  the  dreaded  fore  paw, 
while,  with  one  mighty  sabre  stroke,  he  cleft  the 
bear's  skull,  slaying  the  grinning  beast  as  it  stood 
upright. 


CHAPTER  V 

THE    COUGAR 

NO  animal  of  the  chase  is  so  difficult  to  kill 
by  fair  still-hunting  as  the  cougar — that 
beast  of  many  names,  known  in  the  East 
as  panther  and  painter,  in  the  West  as  moimtain 
lion,  in  the  Southwest  as  Mexican  lion,  and  in  the 
southern  continent  as  lion  and  puma. 

Without  hounds  its  pursuit  is  so  uncertain  that 
from  the  still-hunter's  standpoint  it  hardly  de- 
serves to  rank  as  game  at  all — though,  by  the 
way,  it  is  itself  a  more  skilful  still-hunter  than 
any  human  rival.  It  prefers  to  move  abroad  by 
night  or  at  dusk;  and  in  the  daytime  usually 
lies  hid  in  some  cave  or  tangled  thicket  where  it 
is  absolutely  impossible  even  to  stumble  on  it  by 
chance.  It  is  a  beast  of  stealth  and  rapine;  its 
great,  velvet  paws  never  make  a  sound,  and  it  is 
always  on  the  watch  whether  for  prey  or  for 
enemies,  while  it  rarely  leaves  shelter  even  when 
it  thinks  itself  safe.  Its  soft,  leisurely  movements 
and  uniformity  of  color  make  it  difficult  to  dis- 
cover at  best,  and  its  extreme  watchfulness  helps 
it ;  but  it  is  the  cougar's  reluctance  to  leave  cover 

128 


The  Cougar  129 

at  any  time,  its  habit  of  slinking  off  through 
the  brush,  instead  of  running  in  the  open,  when 
startled,  and  the  way  in  which  it  lies  motionless 
in  its  lair  even  when  a  man  is  within  twenty 
yards,  that  render  it  so  difficult  to  still-hunt. 

In  fact,  it  is  next  to  impossible  with  any  hope 
of  success  regularly  to  himt  the  cougar  without 
dogs  or  bait.  Most  cougars  that  are  killed  by 
still-himters  are  shot  by  accident  while  the  man 
is  after  other  game.  This  has  been  my  own  ex- 
perience. Although  not  common,  cougars  are 
found  near  my  ranch,  where  the  ground  is  pecu- 
liarly favorable  for  the  solitary  rifleman;  and  for 
ten  years  I  have,  off  and  on,  devoted  a  day  or 
two  to  their  pursuit ;  but  never  successfully.  One 
December  a  large  cougar  took  up  his  abode  on  a 
densely  wooded  bottom  two  miles  above  the 
ranch-house.  I  did  not  discover  his  existence  im- 
til  I  went  there  one  evening  to  kill  a  deer,  and 
found  that  he  had  driven  all  the  deer  off  the  bot- 
tom, having  killed  several,  as  well  as  a  young 
heifer.  Snow  was  falling  at  the  time,  but  the 
storm  was  evidently  almost  over ;  the  leaves  were 
all  off  the  trees  and  bushes ;  and  I  felt  that  next 
day  there  would  be  such  a  chance  to  follow  the 
cougar  as  fate  rarely  offered.  In  the  morning  by 
dawn  I  was  at  the  bottom,  and  speedily  found 
his  trail.  Following  it,  I  came  across  his  bed, 
among  some  cedars  in  a  dark,  steep  gorge,  where 

VOL.   H.— g. 


I30         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

the  buttes  bordered  the  bottom.  He  had  evi- 
dently just  left  it,  and  I  followed  his  tracks  all 
day.  But  I  never  caught  a  glimpse  of  him,  and 
late  in  the  afternoon  I  trudged  wearily  home- 
wards. When  I  went  out  next  morning  I  found 
that,  as  soon  as  I  abandoned  the  chase,  my  quarry, 
according  to  the  uncanny  habit  sometimes  dis- 
played by  his  kind,  coolly  turned  likewise,  and 
deliberately  dogged  my  footsteps  to  within  a 
mile  of  the  ranch-house;  his  round  footprints 
being  as  clear  as  writing  in  the  snow. 

This  was  the  best  chance  of  the  kind  that  I 
ever  had ;  but  again  and  again  I  have  found  fresh 
signs  of  cougar,  such  as  a  lair  which  they  had 
just  left,  game  they  had  killed,  or  one  of  our 
venison  caches  which  they  had  robbed,  and  have 
hunted  for  them  all  day  without  success.  My 
failures  were  doubtless  due,  in  part,  to  various 
shortcomings  in  hunter' s-craft  on  my  own  part; 
but  equally  without  doubt  they  were  mainly  due 
to  the  quarry's  wariness  and  its  sneaking  ways. 

I  have  seen  a  wild  cougar  alive  but  twice,  and 
both  times  by  chance.  On  one  occasion  one  of 
my  men,  Merrifield,  and  I  surprised  one  eating  a 
skunk  in  a  bullberry  patch;  and  by  our  own 
bungling  frightened  it  away  from  its  unsavory 
repast  without  getting  a  shot. 

On  the  other  occasion  luck  befriended  me.  I 
was  with  a  pack-train  in  the  Rockies,  and  one 


The  Cougar  131 

day,  feeling  lazy,  and  as  we  had  no  meat  in  camp, 
I  determined  to  try  for  deer  by  lying  in  wait  be- 
side a  recently  travelled  game  trail.  The  spot  I 
chose  was  a  steep,  pine-clad  slope  leading  down 
to  a  little  moimtain  lake.  I  hid  behind  a  breast- 
work of  rotten  logs,  with  a  few  yoimg  evergreens 
in  front — an  excellent  ambush.  A  broad  game 
trail  slanted  down  the  hill  directly  past  me.  I 
lay  perfectly  quiet  for  about  an  hour,  listening  to 
the  murmur  of  the  pine  forests,  and  the  occa- 
sional call  of  a  jay  or  woodpecker,  and  gazing 
eagerly  along  the  trail  in  the  waning  light  of 
the  late  afternoon.  Suddenly,  without  noise  or 
warning  of  any  kind,  a  cougar  stood  in  the  trail 
before  me.  The  unlooked-for  and  unheralded  ap- 
proach of  the  beast  was  fairly  ghost-like.  With 
its  head  lower  than  its  shoulders,  and  its  long 
tail  twitching,  it  slouched  down  the  path,  tread- 
ing as  softly  as  a  kitten.  I  waited  until  it  had 
passed  and  then  fired  into  the  short  ribs,  the 
bullet  ranging  forward.  Throwing  its  tail  up  in 
the  air,  and  giving  a  boimd,  the  cougar  galloped 
off  over  a  slight  ridge.  But  it  did  not  go  far; 
within  a  himdred  yards  I  found  it  stretched  on 
its  side,  its  jaws  still  working  convulsively. 

The  true  way  to  hunt  the  cougar  is  to  follow  it 
with  dogs.  If  the  chase  is  conducted  in  this 
fashion,  it  is  very  exciting,  and  resembles  on  a 
larger  scale  the  ordinary  method  of  hunting  the 


132         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

wildcat  or  small  lynx,  as  practised  by  the  sport- 
loving  planters  of  the  Southern  States.  With  a 
very  little  training,  hounds  readily  and  eagerly 
pursue  the  cougar,  showing  in  this  kind  of  chase 
none  of  the  fear  and  disgust  they  are  so  prone 
to  exhibit  when  put  on  the  trail  of  the  certainly 
no  more  dangerous  wolf.  The  cougar,  when  the 
hounds  are  on  its  track,  at  first  runs,  but  when 
hard  pressed  takes  to  a  tree,  or  possibly  comes  to 
bay  in  thick  cover.  Its  attention  is  then  so  taken 
up  with  the  hotinds  that  it  can  usually  be  ap- 
proached and  shot  without  much  difficulty; 
though  some  cougars  break  bay  when  the  hunters 
come  near,  and  again  make  off,  when  they  can 
only  be  stopped  by  many  large  and  fierce  hounds. 
Hounds  are  often  killed  in  these  fights;  and  if 
hungry  a  cougar  will  pounce  on  any  dog  for  food ; 
yet,  as  I  have  elsewhere  related,  I  know  of  one 
instance  in  which  a  small  pack  of  big,  savage 
hounds  killed  a  cougar  unassisted.  General  Wade 
Hampton,  who  with  horse  and  hound  has  been 
the  mightiest  hunter  America  has  ever  seen,  in- 
forms me  that  he  has  killed  with  his  pack  some 
sixteen  cougars,  during  the  fifty  years  he  has 
hunted  in  South  Carolina  and  Mississippi.  I  be- 
lieve they  were  all  killed  in  the  latter  State. 
General  Hampton's  hunting  has  been  chiefly  for 
bear  and  deer,  though  his  pack  also  follows  the 
lynx  and  the  gray  fox;    and,  of  course,  if  good 


The  Cougar  133 

fortune  throws  either  a  wolf  or  a  cougar  in  his 
way  it  is  followed  as  the  game  of  all  others.  All 
the  cougars  he  killed  were  either  treed  or  brought 
to  bay  in  a  canebrake  by  the  hounds;  and  they 
often  handled  the  pack  very  roughly  in  the  death 
struggle.  He  found  them  much  more  dangerous 
antagonists  than  the  black  bear  when  assailed 
with  the  himting-knife,  a  weapon  of  which  he 
was  very  fond.  However,  if  his  pack  had  held 
a  few  very  large,  savage  dogs,  put  in  purely  for 
fighting  when  the  quarry  was  at  bay,  I  think  the 
danger  would  have  been  minimized. 

General  Hampton  followed  his  game  on  horse- 
back ;  but  in  following  the  cougar  with  dogs  this 
is  by  no  means  always  necessary.  Thus  Colonel 
Cecil  Clay,  of  Washington,  killed  a  cougar  in  West 
Virginia,  on  foot  with  only  three  or  four  hounds. 
The  dogs  took  the  cold  trail,  and  he  had  to  run 
many  miles  over  the  rough,  forest-clad  mountains 
after  them.  Finally,  they  drove  the  cougar  up  a 
tree;  where  he  found  it,  standing  among  the 
branches,  in  a  half -erect  position,  its  hind  feet  on 
one  limb  and  its  fore  feet  on  another,  while  it 
glared  down  at  the  dogs,  and  switched  its  tail 
from  side  to  side.  He  shot  it  through  both 
shoulders  and  down  it  came  in  a  heap,  where- 
upon the  dogs  jumped  in  and  worried  it,  for  its 
fore  legs  were  useless,  though  it  managed  to  catch 
one  dog  in  its  jaws  and  bite  him  severely. 


134         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

A  wholly  exceptional  instance  of  the  kind  was 
related  to  me  by  my  old  himting  friend,  Willis. 
In  his  youth,  in  southwest  Missouri,  he  knew  a 
half-witted  ''poor  white"  who  was  very  fond  of 
hunting  coons.  He  himted  at  night,  armed  with 
an  axe  and  accompanied  by  his  dog  Penny,  a 
large,  savage,  half -starved  cur.  One  dark  night 
the  dog  treed  an  animal  which  he  could  not  see; 
so  he  cut  down  the  tree,  and  immediately  Penny 
jumped  in  and  grabbed  the  beast.  The  man 
simg  out  **  Hold  on,  Penny,"  seeing  that  the  dog 
had  seized  some  large,  wild  animal;  the  next 
moment  the  brute  knocked  the  dog  endways,  and 
at  the  same  instant  the  man  split  open  its  head 
with  the  axe.  Great  was  his  astonishment,  and 
greater  still  the  astonishment  of  the  neighbors 
next  day  when  it  was  f  otmd  that  he  had  actually 
killed  a  cougar.  These  great  cats  often  take  to 
trees  in  a  perfectly  foolish  manner.  My  friend, 
the  hunter  Woody,  in  all  his  thirty  years'  expe- 
rience in  the  wilds,  never  killed  but  one  cougar. 
He  was  lying  out  in  camp  with  two  dogs  at  the 
time;  it  was  about  midnight,  the  fire  was  out, 
and  the  night  was  pitch-black.  He  was  roused 
by  the  furious  barking  of  his  two  dogs,  which  had 
charged  into  the  gloom,  and  were  apparently 
baying  at  something  in  a  tree  close  by.  He 
kindled  the  fire,  and  to  his  astonishment  found 
the  thing  in  the  tree  to  be  a  cougar.     Coming 


The  Cougar  135 

close  underneath  he  shot  it  with  his  revolver; 
thereupon  it  leaped  down,  ran  some  forty  yards, 
and  climbed  up  another  tree,  where  it  died  among 
the  branches. 

If  cowboys  come  across  a  cougar  in  open 
ground  they  invariably  chase  and  try  to  rope  it 
— as  indeed  they  do  with  any  wild  animal.  I 
have  known  several  instances  of  cougars  being 
roped  in  this  way ;  in  one,  the  animal  was  brought 
into  camp  by  two  strapping  cow-punchers. 

The  cougar  sometimes  stalks  its  prey,  and  some- 
times lies  in  wait  for  it  beside  a  game  trail  or 
drinking-pool — very  rarely  indeed  does  it  crouch 
on  the  limb  of  a  tree.  When  excited  by  the 
presence  of  game  it  is  sometimes  very  bold. 
Willis  once  fired  at  some  bighorn  sheep,  on  a 
steep  moimtain-side ;  he  missed,  and  immediately 
after  his  shot,  a  cougar  made  a  dash  into  the 
midst  of  the  flying  band,  in  hopes  to  secure  a 
victim.  The  cougar  roams  over  long  distances, 
and  often  changes  its  hunting-ground,  perhaps 
remaining  in  one  place  two  or  three  months,  until 
the  game  is  exhausted,  and  then  shifting  to  an- 
other. When  it  does  not  lie  in  wait  it  usually 
spends  most  of  the  night,  winter  and  summer,  in 
prowling  restlessly  aroimd  the  places  where  it 
thinks  it  may  come  across  prey,  and  it  will  pa- 
tiently follow  an  animal's  trail.  There  is  no 
kind  of  game,   save  the  full-grown   grisly  and 


136         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

biiffalo,  which  it  does  not  at  times  assail  and 
master.  It  readily  snaps  up  grisly  cubs  or  buf- 
falo calves;  and  in  at  least  one  instance  I  have 
known  of  it  springing  on,  slaying,  and  eating  a 
full-grown  wolf.  I  presume  the  latter  was  taken 
by  surprise.  On  the  other  hand,  the  cougar  itself 
has  to  fear  the  big  timber  wolves  when  mad- 
dened by  the  winter  htmger  and  gathered  in  small 
parties;  while  a  large  grisly  would  of  course  be 
an  overmatch  for  it  twice  over,  though  its  supe- 
rior agility  puts  it  beyond  the  grisly' s  power  to 
harm  it,  imless  by  some  unlucky  chance  taken  in 
a  cave.  Nor  could  a  cougar  overcome  a  bull 
moose,  or  a  bull  elk  either,  if  the  latter' s  horns 
were  grown,  save  by  taking  it  unawares.  By 
choice,  with  such  big  game,  its  victims  are  the 
cows  and  young.  The  pronghom  rarely  comes 
within  reach  of  its  spring;  but  it  is  the  dreaded 
enemy  of  bighorn,  white-goat,  and  every  kind 
of  deer,  while  it  also  preys  on  all  the  smaller 
beasts,  such  as  foxes,  coons,  rabbits,  beavers,  and 
even  gophers,  rats,  and  mice.  It  sometimes 
makes  a  thorny  meal  of  the  porcupine,  and  if 
sufficiently  hungry  attacks  and  eats  its  smaller 
cousin,  the  lynx.  It  is  not  a  brave  animal;  nor 
does  it  run  its  prey  down  in  open  chase.  It 
always  makes  its  attacks  by  stealth,  and,  if  pos- 
sible, from  behind,  and  relies  on  two  or  three 
tremendous  springs  to  bring  it  on  the  doomed 


The  Cougar  137 

creature's  back.  It  uses  its  claws  as  well  as  its 
teeth  in  holding  and  killing  the  prey.  If  possible 
it  always  seizes  a  large  animal  by  the  throat, 
whereas  the  wolf's  point  of  attack  is  more  often 
the  haunch  or  flank.  Small  deer  or  sheep  it  will 
often  knock  over  and  kill,  merely  using  its  big 
paws;  sometimes  it  breaks  their  necks.  It  has 
a  small  head  compared  to  the  jaguar,  and  its 
bite  is  much  less  dangerous.  Hence,  as  com- 
pared to  its  larger  and  bolder  relative,  it  places 
more  trust  in  its  claws  and  less  in  its  teeth. 

Though  the  cougar  prefers  woodland,  it  is  not 
necessarily  a  beast  of  the  dense  forests  only ;  for 
it  is  fotind  in  all  the  plains  coiintry,  living  in  the 
scanty  timber  belts  which  fringe  the  streams,  or 
among  the  patches  of  brush  in  the  Bad  Lands. 
The  persecution  of  hunters,  however,  always  tends 
to  drive  it  into  the  most  thickly  wooded  and 
broken  fastnesses  of  the  mountains.  The  she 
has  from  one  to  three  kittens,  brought  forth  in  a 
cave  or  a  secluded  lair,  under  a  dead  log,  or  in 
very  thick  brush.  It  is  said  that  the  old  hes 
kill  the  small  male  kittens  when  they  get  a 
chance.  They  certainly  at  times  during  the 
breeding  season  fight  desperately  among  them- 
selves. Cougars  are  very  solitary  beasts;  it  is 
rare  to  see  more  than  one  at  a  time,  and  then 
only  a  mother  and  yotmg,  or  a  mated  male  and 
female.     While  she  has  kittens,   the  mother  is 


138         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

doubly  destructive  to  game.  The  young  begin 
to  kill  for  themselves  very  early.  The  first  fall 
after  they  are  bom  they  attack  large  game,  and 
from  ignorance  are  bolder  in  making  their  at- 
tacks than  their  parents;  but  they  are  clumsy 
and  often  let  the  prey  escape.  Like  all  cats, 
cougars  are  comparatively  easy  to  trap,  much 
more  so  than  beasts  of  the  dog  kind,  such  as  the 
fox  and  wolf. 

They  are  silent  animals;  but  old  hunters  say 
that  at  mating  time  the  males  call  loudly,  while 
the  females  have  a  very  distinct  answer.  They 
are  also  sometimes  noisy  at  other  seasons.  I  am 
not  sure  that  I  ever  heard  one;  but  one  night, 
while  camped  in  a  heavily  timbered  coulie  near 
Kildeer  Mountains,  where,  as  their  footprints 
showed,  the  beasts  were  plentiful,  I  twice  heard 
a  loud,  wailing  scream  ringing  through  the  im- 
penetrable gloom  which  shrouded  the  hills  around 
us.  My  companion,  an  old  plainsman,  said  that 
this  was  the  cry  of  the  cougar  prowling  for  its 
prey.  Certainly  no  man  could  well  listen  to  a 
stranger  and  wilder  sound. 

Ordinarily,  the  rifleman  is  in  no  danger  from  a 
himted  cougar;  the  beast's  one  idea  seems  to  be 
flight,  and  even  if  its  assailant  is  very  close,  it 
rarely  charges  if  there  is  any  chance  for  escape. 
Yet  there  are  occasions  when  it  will  show  fight. 
In  the  spring  of  1890,  a  man  with  whom  I  had 


The  Cougar  139 

more  than  once  worked  on  the  round-up — though 
I  never  knew  his  name — was  badly  mauled  by  a 
cougar  near  my  ranch.  He  was  hunting  with  a 
companion  and  they  imexpectedly  came  on  the 
cougar  on  a  shelf  of  sandstone  above  their  heads, 
only  some  ten  feet  off.  It  sprang  down  on  the 
man,  mangled  him  with  teeth  and  claws  for  a 
moment,  and  then  ran  away.  Another  man  I 
knew,  a  hunter  named  Ed.  Smith,  who  had  a 
small  ranch  near  Helena,  was  once  charged  by  a 
woimded  cougar;  he  received  a  couple  of  deep 
scratches,  but  was  not  seriously  hurt. 

Many  old  frontiersmen  tell  tales  of  the  cougar's 
occasionally  itself  making  the  attack,  and  dogging 
to  his  death  some  unfortimate  wayfarer.  Many 
others  laugh  such  tales  to  scorn.  It  is  certain  that 
if  such  attacks  occur  they  are  altogether  excep- 
tional, being  indeed  of  such  extreme  rarity  that 
they  may  be  entirely  disregarded  in  practice.  I 
should  have  no  more  hesitation  in  sleeping  out 
in  a  wood  where  there  were  cougars,  or  walking 
through  it  after  nightfall,  than  I  should  have  if 
the  cougars  were  tomcats. 

Yet  it  is  foolish  to  deny  that  in  exceptional 
instances  attacks  may  occur.  Cougars  vary  won- 
derfully in  size,  and  no  less  in  temper.  Indeed, 
I  think  that  by  nature  they  are  as  ferocious  and 
bloodthirsty  as  they  are  cowardly ;  and  that  their 
habit  of  sometimes  dogging  wayfarers  for  miles  is 


HO         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

due  to  a  desire  for  bloodshed  which  they  lack  the 
courage  to  realize.  In  the  old  days,  when  all 
wild  beasts  were  less  shy  than  at  present,  there 
was  more  danger  from  the  cougar;  and  this  was 
especially  true  in  the  dark  canebrakes  of  some  of 
the  Southern  States,  where  the  man  a  cougar  was 
most  likely  to  encounter  was  a  nearly  naked  and 
unarmed  negro.  General  Hampton  tells  me  that 
near  his  Mississippi  plantation,  many  years  ago, 
a  negro  who  was  one  of  a  gang  engaged  in  build- 
ing a  railroad  through  low  and  wet  ground  was 
waylaid  and  killed  by  a  cougar  late  one  night  as 
he  was  walking  alone  through  the  swamp. 

I  knew  two  men  in  Missoula  who  were  once  at- 
tacked by  cougars  in  a  very  curious  manner.  It 
was  in  January,  and  they  were  walking  home 
through  the  snow  after  a  hunt,  each  carrying  on 
his  back  the  saddle,  haunches,  and  hide  of  a  deer 
he  had  slain.  Just  at  dusk,  as  they  were  passing 
through  a  narrow  ravine,  the  man  in  front  heard 
his  partner  utter  a  sudden  loud  call  for  help. 
Turning,  he  was  dumbfounded  to  see  the  man 
lying  on  his  face  in  the  snow,  with  a  cougar  which 
had  evidently  just  knocked  him  down  standing 
over  him,  grasping  the  deer  meat ;  while  another 
cougar  was  galloping  up  to  assist.  Swinging  his 
rifle  round  he  shot  the  first  one  in  the  brain,  and 
it  dropped  motionless,  whereat  the  second  halted, 
wheeled,  and  bounded  into  the  woods.     His  com- 


The  Cougar  141 

panion  was  not  in  the  least  hurt  or  even  fright- 
ened, though  greatly  amazed.  The  cougars  were 
not  full  grown,  but  young  of  the  year. 

Now  in  this  case  I  do  not  believe  the  beasts 
had  any  real  intention  of  attacking  the  men. 
They  were  young  animals — bold,  stupid,  and  very 
hungry.  The  smell  of  the  raw  meat  excited  them 
beyond  control,  and  they  probably  could  not 
make  out  clearly  what  the  men  were,  as  they 
walked  bent  under  their  burdens,  with  the  deer- 
skins on  their  backs.  Evidently  the  cougars  were 
only  trying  to  get  at  the  venison. 

In  1886,  a  cougar  killed  an  Indian  near  Flat- 
head Lake.  Two  Indians  were  htmting  together 
on  horseback  when  they  came  on  the  cougar.  It 
fell  at  once  to  their  shots,  and  they  dismounted 
and  ran  towards  it.  Just  as  they  reached  it  it 
came  to,  and  seized  one,  killing  him  instantly 
with  a  couple  of  savage  bites  in  the  throat  and 
chest;  it  then  raced  after  the  other,  and,  as  he 
sprung  on  his  horse,  struck  him  across  the  but- 
tocks, inflicting  a  deep  but  not  dangerous  scratch. 
I  saw  this  survivor  a  year  later.  He  evinced 
great  reluctance  to  talk  of  the  event,  and  insisted 
that  the  thing  w^hich  had  slain  his  companion 
was  not  really  a  cougar  at  all,  but  a  devil. 

A  she-cougar  does  not  often  attempt  to  avenge 
the  loss  of  her  young,  but  sometimes  she  does. 
A  remarkable  instance  of  the  kind  happened  to  my 


142         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

friend,  Professor  John  Bache  McMaster,  in  1875. 
He  was  camped  near  the  head  of  Green  River, 
Wyoming.  One  afternoon  he  foimd  a  couple  of 
cougar  kittens,  and  took  them  into  camp;  they 
were  clumsy,  playful,  friendly  little  creatures. 
The  next  afternoon  he  remained  in  camp  with 
the  cook.  Happening  to  look  up  he  suddenly 
spied  the  mother  cougar  running  noiselessly  down 
on  them,  her  eyes  glaring  and  tail  twitching. 
Snatching  up  his  rifle,  he  killed  her  when  she  was 
barely  twenty  yards  distant. 

A  ranchman,  named  Trescott,  who  was  at  one 
time  my  neighbor,  told  me  that  while  he  was 
living  on  a  sheep-farm  in  the  Argentine,  he  found 
pumas  very  common,  and  killed  many.  They 
were  very  destructive  to  sheep  and  colts,  but 
were  singularly  cowardly  when  dealing  with  men. 
Not  only  did  they  never  attack  human  beings,  un- 
der any  stress  of  hunger,  but  they  made  no  effec- 
tive resistance  when  brought  to  bay,  merely 
scratching  and  cuffing  like  a  big  cat;  so  that  if 
found  in  a  cave,  it  was  safe  to  creep  in  and  shoot 
them  with  a  revolver.  Jaguars,  on  the  contrary, 
were  very  dangerous  antagonists. 


CHAPTER  VI 

A   PECCARY    HUNT   ON   THE    NUECES 

IN  the  United  States  the  peccary  is  only  found 
in  the  southernmost  comer  of  Texas.  In 
April,  1892,  I  made  a  flying  visit  to  the  ranch 
country  of  this  region,  starting  from  the  town  of 
Uvalde  with  a  Texan  friend,  Mr.  John  Moore. 
My  trip  being  hurried,  I  had  but  a  couple  of  days 
to  devote  to  hunting. 

Our  first  halting-place  was  at  a  ranch  on  the 
Frio — a  low,  wooden  building,  of  many  rooms, 
with  open  galleries  between  them,  and  verandahs 
round  about.  The  country  was  in  some  respects 
like,  in  others  strangely  unlike,  the  northern 
plains  with  which  I  was  so  well  acquainted.  It 
was  for  the  most  part  covered  with  a  scattered 
growth  of  tough,  stunted  mesquite-trees,  not 
dense  enough  to  be  called  a  forest,  and  yet  suf- 
ficiently close  to  cut  off  the  view.  It  was  very- 
dry,  even  as  compared  with  the  northern  plains. 
The  bed  of  the  Frio  was  filled  with  coarse  gravel, 
and  for  the  most  part  dry  as  a  bone  on  the  sur- 
face, the  water  seeping  through  underneath,  and 
only  appearing  in  occasional  deep  holes.     These 

143 


144         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

deep  holes  or  ponds  never  fail,  even  after  a  year*s 
drouth;  they  were  filled  with  fish.  One  lay 
quite  near  the  ranch-house,  under  a  bold  rocky 
bluff ;  at  its  edge  grew  giant  cypress-trees.  In  the 
hollows  and  by  the  watercourses  were  occasional 
groves  of  pecans,  live-oaks,  and  elms.  Strange 
birds  hopped  among  the  bushes;  the  chaparral 
cock — a  big,  handsome  groimd-cuckoo  of  re- 
markable habits,  much  given  to  preying  on  small 
snakes  and  lizards — ran  over  the  ground  with  ex- 
traordinary rapidity.  Beautiful  swallow-tailed 
king-birds  with  rosy  plumage  perched  on  the  tops 
of  the  small  trees,  and  soared  and  flitted  in  grace- 
ful curves  above  them.  Blackbirds  of  many  kinds 
scuttled  in  flocks  about  the  corrals  and  outbuild- 
ings around  the  ranches.  Mocking-birds  abounded 
and  were  very  noisy,  singing  almost  all  the  day- 
time, but  with  their  usual  irritating  inequality  of 
performance,  wonderfully  musical  and  powerful 
snatches  of  song  being  interspersed  with  imitations 
of  other  bird  notes  and  disagreeable  squalling. 
Throughout  the  trip  I  did  not  hear  one  of  them 
utter  the  beautiful  love-song  in  which  they  some- 
times indulge  at  night. 

The  coimtry  was  all  under  wire  fence,  unlike 
the  northern  regions,  the  pastures,  however,  being 
sometimes  many  miles  across.  When  we  reached 
the  Frio  ranch  a  herd  of  a  thousand  cattle  had 
just  been  gathered,  and  two  or  three  himdred 


A  Peccary  Hunt  on  the  Nueces    145 

beeves  and  young  stock  were  being  cut  out  to  be 
driven  northward  over  the  trail.  The  cattle  were 
worked  in  pens  much  more  than  in  the  North, 
and  on  all  the  ranches  there  were  chutes  with 
steering  gates,  by  means  of  which  the  individuals 
of  a  herd  could  be  dexterously  shifted  into  va- 
rious corrals.  The  branding  of  the  calves  was 
done  ordinarily  in  one  of  these  corrals  and  on 
foot,  the  calf  being  always  roped  by  both  fore 
legs;  otherwise  the  work  of  the  cow-punchers 
was  much  like  that  of  their  brothers  in  the  North. 
As  a  whole,  however,  they  were  distinctly  more 
proficient  with  the  rope,  and  at  least  half  of  them 
were  Mexicans. 

There  were  some  bands  of  wild  cattle,  living 
only  in  the  densest  timber  of  the  river  bottoms 
which  were  literally  as  wild  as  deer,  and  more- 
over very  fierce  and  dangerous.  The  pursuit  of 
these  was  exciting  and  hazardous  in  the  extreme. 
The  men  who  took  part  in  it  showed  not  only  the 
utmost  daring  but  the  most  consummate  horse- 
manship and  wonderful  skill  in  the  use  of  the 
rope,  the  coil  being  hurled  with  the  force  and 
precision  of  an  iron  quoit;  a  single  man  speedily 
overtaking,  roping,  throwing,  and  binding  down 
the  fiercest  steer  or  bull. 

There  had  been  many  peccaries,  or,  as  the  Mex- 
icans and  cow-punchers  of  the  border  usually  call 
them,  javalinas,  round  this  ranch  a  few   years 


VOL. II. — 10. 


146         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

before  the  date  of  my  visit.  Until  1886,  or 
thereabouts,  these  little  wild  hogs  were  not  much 
molested,  and  aboimded  in  the  dense  chaparral 
around  the  lower  Rio  Grande.  In  that  year, 
however,  it  was  suddenly  discovered  that  their 
hides  had  a  market  value,  being  worth  four  bits 
—that  is,  half  a  dollar — apiece;  and  many  Mex- 
icans and  not  a  few  shiftless  Texans  went  into 
the  business  of  hunting  them  as  a  means  of  liveli- 
hood. They  were  more  easily  killed  than  deer, 
and,  as  a  result,  they  were  speedily  exterminated 
in  many  localities  where  they  had  formerly  been 
numerous,  and  even  where  they  were  left  were  to 
be  found  only  in  greatly  diminished  numbers. 
On  this  particular  Frio  ranch  the  last  little  band 
had  been  killed  nearly  a  year  before.  There  were 
three  of  them,  a  boar  and  two  sows,  and  a  couple 
of  the  cowboys  stumbled  on  them  early  one  morn- 
ing while  out  with  a  dog.  After  half  a  mile's 
chase  the  three  peccaries  ran  into  a  hollow  pecan- 
tree,  and  one  of  the  cowboys,  dismounting,  im- 
provised a  lance  by  tying  his  knife  to  the  end  of 
a  pole,  and  killed  them  all. 

Many  anecdotes  were  related  to  me  of  what 
they  had  done  in  the  old  days  when  they  were 
plentiful  on  the  ranch.  They  were  then  usually 
found  in  parties  of  from  twenty  to  thirty,  feeding 
in  the  dense  chaparral,  the  sows  rejoining  the 
herd  with  the  young  very  soon  after  the  birth  of 


A  Peccary  Hunt  on  the  Nueces    147 

the  latter,  each  sow  usually  having  but  one  or 
two  at  a  litter.  At  night  they  sometimes  lay  in 
the  thickest  cover,  but  always,  where  possible, 
preferred  to  house  in  a  cave  or  big  hollow  log,  one 
invariably  remaining  as  a  sentinel  close  to  the 
mouth,  looking  out.  If  this  sentinel  were  shot, 
another  would  almost  certainly  take  his  place. 
They  were  subject  to  freaks  of  stupidity,  and 
were  pugnacious  to  a  degree.  Not  only  would 
they  fight  if  molested,  but  they  would  often  at- 
tack entirely  without  provocation. 

Once  my  friend  Moore  himself,  while  out  with 
another  cowboy  on  horseback,  was  attacked  in 
sheer  wantonness  by  a  drove  of  these  little  wild 
hogs.  The  two  men  were  riding  by  a  drove  of 
live-oaks  along  a  wood-cutter's  cart-track,  and 
were  assailed  without  a  moment's  warning.  The 
little  creatures  completely  surrounded  them,  cut- 
ting fiercely  at  the  horses'  legs  and  jumping  up 
at  the  riders'  feet.  The  men,  drawing  their  re- 
volvers, dashed  through  and  were  closely  followed 
by  their  pursuers  for  three  or  four  hundred  yards, 
although  they  fired  right  and  left  with  good  effect. 
Both  of  the  horses  were  badly  cut.  On  another 
occasion  the  bookkeeper  of  the  ranch  walked  off 
to  a  water-hole  but  a  quarter  of  a  mile  distant, 
and  came  face  to  face  with  a  peccary  on  a  cattle 
trail,  where  the  brush  was  thick.  Instead  of 
getting  out  of  his  way  the  creature  charged  him 


148         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

instantly,  drove  him  up  a  small  mesquite-tree, 
and  kept  him  there  for  nearly  two  hours,  looking 
up  at  him  and  champing  its  tusks. 

I  spent  two  days  hunting  round  this  ranch  but 
saw  no  peccary  sign  whatever,  although  deer  were 
quite  plentiful.  Parties  of  wild  geese  and  sand- 
hill cranes  occasionally  flew  overhead.  At  night- 
fall the  poor- wills  wailed  everywhere  through  the 
woods,  and  coyotes  yelped  and  yelled,  while  in 
the  early  morning  the  wild  turkeys  gobbled 
loudly  from  their  roosts  in  the  tops  of  the  pecan- 
trees. 

Having  satisfied  myself  that  there  were  no  java- 
linas  left  on  the  Frio  ranch,  and  being  nearly  at 
the  end  of  my  holiday,  I  was  about  to  abandon 
the  effort  to  get  any,  when  a  passing  cowman  hap- 
pened to  mention  the  fact  that  some  were  still 
to  be  found  on  the  Nueces  River  thirty  miles  or 
thereabouts  to  the  southward.  Thither  I  deter- 
mined to  go,  and  next  morning  Moore  and  I 
started  in  a  buggy  drawn  by  a  redoubtable  horse, 
named  Jim  Swinger,  which  we  were  allowed  to 
use  because  he  bucked  so  under  the  saddle  that 
nobody  on  the  ranch  could  ride  him.  We  drove 
six  or  seven  hours  across  the  dry,  waterless  plains. 
There  had  been  a  heavy  frost  a  few  days  before, 
which  had  blackened  the  budding  mesquite-trees, 
and  their  twigs  still  showed  no  signs  of  sprouting. 
Occasionally  we  came  across  open  spaces  where 


A  Peccary  Hunt  on  the  Nueces    149 

there  was  nothing  but  short  brown  grass.  In 
most  places,  however,  the  leafless,  sprawling  mes- 
quites  were  scattered  rather  thinly  over  the 
ground,  cutting  off  an  extensive  view  and  merely 
adding  to  the  melancholy  barrenness  of  the  land- 
scape. The  road  was  nothing  but  a  couple  of 
dusty  wheel-tracks ;  the  grovind  was  parched,  and 
the  grass  cropped  close  by  the  gaunt,  starved 
cattle.  As  we  drove  along  buzzards  and  great 
hawks  occasionally  soared  overhead.  Now  and 
then  we  passed  lines  of  wild-looking,  long-homed 
steers,  and  once  we  came  on  the  grazing  horses 
of  a  cow-outfit,  just  preparing  to  start  northward 
over  the  trail  to  the  fattening  pastures.  Occa- 
sionally we  encountered  one  or  two  cow-punchers : 
either  Texans,  habited  exactly  like  their  brethren 
in  the  North,  with  broad-brimmed  gray  hats, 
blue  shirts,  silk  neckerchiefs,  and  leather  leggings, 
or  else  Mexicans,  more  gaudily  dressed,  and  wear- 
ing peculiarly  stiff,  very  broad-brimmed  hats, 
with  conical  tops. 

Toward  the  end  of  our  ride  we  got  where  the 
ground  was  more  fertile,  and  there  had  recently 
been  a  sprinkling  of  rain.  Here  we  came  across 
wonderful  flower  prairies.  In  one  spot  I  kept 
catching  glimpses  through  the  mesquite-trees  of 
lilac  stretches  which  I  had  first  thought  must  be 
ponds  of  water.  On  coming  nearer  they  proved 
to  be  acres  on  acres  thickly  covered  with  beautiful 


I50         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

lilac-colored  flowers.  Farther  on  we  came  to 
where  broad  bands  of  red  flowers  covered  the 
ground  for  many  furlongs;  then  their  places  were 
taken  by  yellow  blossoms,  elsewhere  by  white. 
Generally,  each  band  or  patch  of  ground  was  cov- 
ered densely  by  flowers  of  the  same  color,  making 
a  great  vivid  streak  across  the  landscape ;  but  in 
places  they  were  mixed  together,  red,  yellow,  and 
purple,  interspersed  in  patches  and  curving  bands, 
carpeting  the  prairie  in  a  strange,  bright  pattern. 

Finally,  toward  evening  we  reached  the  Nueces. 
Where  we  struck  it  first  the  bed  was  dry,  except 
in  occasional  deep,  malarial-looking  pools,  but  a 
short  distance  below  there  began  to  be  a  running 
current.  Great  blue  herons  were  stalking  beside 
these  pools,  and  from  one  we  flushed  a  white  ibis. 
In  the  woods  were  reddish  cardinal  birds — much 
less  brilliant  in  plumage  than  the  true  cardinals 
and  the  scarlet  tanagers — and  yellow-headed  tit- 
mice, which  had  already  built  large  domed  nests. 

In  the  valley  of  the  Nueces  itself,  the  brush 
grew  thick.  There  were  great  groves  of  pecan- 
trees,  and  evergreen  live-oaks  stood  in  many 
places,  long,  wind-shaken  tufts  of  gray  moss 
hanging  from  their  limbs.  Many  of  the  trees  in 
the  wet  spots  were  of  giant  size,  and  the  whole 
landscape  was  semi-tropical  in  character.  High 
on  a  bluff  shoulder  overlooking  the  course  of  the 
river  was  perched  the  ranch-house,  toward  which 


A  Peccary  Hunt  on  the  Nueces    151 

we  were  bending  our  steps;  and  here  we  were 
received  with  the  hearty  hospitality  characteris- 
tic of  the  ranch  coiintry  everywhere. 

The  son  of  the  ranchman,  a  tall,  well-built 
young  fellow,  told  me  at  once  that  there  were 
peccaries  in  the  neighborhood,  and  that  he  had 
himself  shot  one  but  two  or  three  days  before, 
and  volunteered  to  lend  us  horses  and  pilot  us 
to  the  game  on  the  morrow,  with  the  help  of  his 
two  dogs.  The  last  were  big  black  curs  with,  as 
we  were  assured,  ''considerable  hound"  in  them. 
One  was  at  the  time  staying  at  the  ranch-house, 
the  other  was  four  or  five  miles  off  with  a  Mexican 
goat-herder,  and  it  was  arranged  that  early  in 
the  morning  we  should  ride  down  to  the  latter 
place,  taking  the  first  dog  with  us  and  procuring 
his  companion  when  we  reached  the  goat -herder's 
house. 

We  started  after  breakfast,  riding  powerful 
cow-ponies,  well  trained  to  gallop  at  full  speed 
through  the  dense  chaparral.  The  big  black 
hound  slouched  at  our  heels.  We  rode  down  the 
banks  of  the  Nueces,  crossing  and  recrossing  the 
stream.  Here  and  there  were  long,  deep  pools,  in 
the  bed  of  the  river,  where  rushes  and  lilies  grew 
and  huge  mailed  garfish  swam  slowly  just  beneath 
the  surface  of  the  water.  Once  my  companions 
stopped  to  pull  a  mired  cow  out  of  a  slough, 
hauling    with    ropes    from    their    saddle-horns. 


152  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

In  places  there  were  half -dry  pools,  out  of  the 
regular  current  of  the  river,  the  water  green 
and  fetid.  The  trees  were  very  tall  and  large. 
The  streamers  of  pale  gray  moss  hung  thickly 
from  the  branches  of  the  live-oaks,  and  when 
many  trees  thus  draped  stood  close  together  they 
bore  a  strangely  mournful  and  desolate  look. 

We  finally  found  the  queer  little  hut  of  the 
Mexican  goat-herder  in  the  midst  of  a  grove  of 
giant  pecans.  On  the  walls  were  nailed  the  skins 
of  different  beasts — raccoons,  wildcats,  and  the 
tree-civet,  with  its  ringed  tail.  The  Mexican's 
brown  wife  and  children  were  in  the  hut,  but 
the  man  himself  and  the  goats  were  off  in  the 
forest,  and  it  took  us  three  or  four  hours'  search 
before  we  found  him.  Then  it  was  nearly  noon, 
and  we  lunched  in  his  hut,  a  square  building  of 
split  logs,  with  bare  earth  floor,  and  roof  of  clap- 
boards and  bark.  Our  lunch  consisted  of  goat's 
meat  and  pan  de  mats.  The  Mexican,  a  broad- 
chested  man  with  a  stolid  Indian  face,  was  evi- 
dently quite  a  sportsman,  and  had  two  or  three 
half-starved  hounds,  besides  the  funny,  hairless 
little  house  dogs,  of  which  Mexicans  seem  so  fond. 

Having  borrowed  the  javalina  hound  of  which 
we  were  in  search,  we  rode  off  in  quest  of  our  game, 
the  two  dogs  trotting  gayly  ahead.  The  one  which 
had  been  living  at  the  ranch  had  evidently  fared 
well,  and  was  very  fat;   the  other  was  little  else 


A  Peccary  Hunt  on  the  Nueces    153 

but  skin  and  bone,  but  as  alert  and  knowing  as 
any  New  York  street-boy,  with  the  same  air  of 
disreputable  capacity.  It  was  this  hound  which 
always  did  most  in  finding  the  javalinas  and 
bringing  them  to  bay,  his  companion's  chief  use 
being  to  make  a  noise  and  lend  the  moral  sup- 
port of  his  presence. 

We  rode  away  from  the  river  on  the  dry  up- 
lands, where  the  timber,  though  thick,  was  small, 
consisting  almost  exclusively  of  the  thorny  mes- 
quites.  Mixed  among  them  were  prickly  pears, 
standing  as  high  as  our  heads  on  horseback,  and 
Spanish  bayonets,  looking  in  the  distance  like 
small  palms ;  and  there  were  many  other  kinds  of 
cactus,  all  with  poisonous  thorns.  Two  or  three 
times  the  dogs  got  on  an  old  trail  and  rushed  off 
giving  tongue,  whereat  we  galloped  madly  after 
them,  ducking  and  dodging  through  and  among 
the  clusters  of  spine -bearing  trees  and  cactus,  not 
without  getting  a  considerable  number  of  thorns 
in  our  hands  and  legs.  It  was  very  dry  and  hot. 
Where  the  javalinas  live  in  droves  in  the  river 
bottoms  they  often  drink  at  the  pools ;  but  when 
some  distance  from  water  they  seem  to  live  quite 
comfortably  on  the  prickly  pear,  slaking  their 
thirst  by  eating  its  hard,  juicy  fibre. 

At  last,  after  several  false  alarms,  and  gallops 
which  led  to  nothing,  when  it  lacked  but  an  hour 
of  sundown  we  struck  a  band  of  five  of  the  little 


154         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

wild  hogs.  They  were  running  off  through  the 
mesquites  with  a  peculiar  hopping  or  bounding 
motion,  and  we  all,  dogs  and  men,  tore  after 
them  instantly. 

Peccaries  are  very  fast  for  a  few  hundred  yards, 
but  speedily  tire,  lose  their  wind,  and  come  to  bay. 
Almost  immediately  one  of  these,  a  sow,  as  it 
turned  out,  wheeled  and  charged  at  Moore  as  he 
passed,  Moore  never  seeing  her  but  keeping  on 
after  another.  The  sow  then  stopped  and  stood 
still,  chattering  her  teeth  savagely,  and  I  jumped 
off  my  horse  and  dropped  her  dead  with  a  shot  in 
the  spine,  over  the  shoulders.  Moore  meanwhile 
had  dashed  off  after  his  pig  in  one  direction,  and 
killed  the  little  beast  with  a  shot  from  the  saddle 
when  it  had  come  to  bay,  turning  and  going 
straight  at  him.  Two  of  the  peccaries  got  off; 
the  remaining  one,  a  rather  large  boar,  was  fol- 
lowed by  the  two  dogs,  and  as  soon  as  I  had  killed 
the  sow  I  leaped  again  on  my  horse  and  made 
after  them,  guided  by  the  yelping  and  baying. 
In  less  than  a  quarter  of  a  mile  they  were  on  his 
haunches,  and  he  wheeled  and  stood  under  a 
bush,  charging  at  them  when  they  came  near 
him,  and  once  catching  one,  inflicting  an  ugly 
cut.  All  the  while  his  teeth  kept  going  like  cas- 
tanets, with  a  rapid  champing  sound.  I  ran  up 
close  and  killed  him  by  a  shot  through  the  back- 
bone where  it  joined  the  neck.     His  tusks  were  fine. 


A  Peccary  Hunt  on  the  Nueces    155 

The  few  minutes'  chase  on  horseback  was  great 
fun,  and  there  was  a  certain  excitement  in  seeing 
the  fierce  Httle  creatures  come  to  bay;  but  the 
true  way  to  kill  these  peccaries  would  be  with  the 
spear.  They  could  often  be  speared  on  horse- 
back, and  where  this  was  impossible,  by  using 
dogs  to  bring  them  to  bay,  they  could  readily  be 
killed  on  foot;  though,  as  they  are  very  active, 
absolutely  fearless,  and  inflict  a  most  formidable 
bite,  it  would  usually  be  safest  to  have  two  men 
go  at  one  together.  Peccaries  are  not  difficult 
beasts  to  kill,  because  their  short  wind  and  their 
pugnacity  make  them  come  to  bay  before  hounds 
so  quickly.  Two  or  three  good  dogs  can  bring  to 
a  halt  a  herd  of  considerable  size.  They  then  all 
stand  in  a  bunch,  or  else  with  their  sterns  against 
a  bank,  chattering  their  teeth  at  their  antago- 
nists. When  angry  and  at  bay,  they  get  their 
legs  close  together,  their  shoulders  high,  and  their 
bristles  all  ruffled  and  look  the  very  incarnation 
of  anger,  and  they  fight  with  reckless  indifference 
to  the  very  last.  Hunters  usually  treat  them 
with  a  certain  amount  of  caution;  but,  as  a 
matter  of  fact,  I  know  of  but  one  case  where  a 
man  was  hurt  by  them.  He  had  shot  at  and 
wounded  one,  was  charged  by  both  it  and  by  its 
two  companions,  and  started  to  climb  a  tree ;  but 
as  he  drew  himself  from  the  ground,  one  sprang 
at  him  and  bit  him  through  the  calf,  inflicting  a 


156         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

very  severe  wound.  I  have  known  of  several 
cases  of  horses  being  cut,  however,  and  dogs  are 
very  commonly  killed.  Indeed,  a  dog  new  to  the 
business  is  almost  certain  to  get  very  badly 
scarred,  and  no  dog  that  hunts  steadily  can  es- 
cape without  some  injury.  If  it  runs  in  right  at 
the  heads  of  the  animals,  the  probabilities  are  that 
it  will  get  killed;  and,  as  a  rule,  even  two  good- 
sized  hounds  cannot  kill  a  peccary,  though  it  is 
no  larger  than  either  of  them.  However,  a  wary, 
resolute,  hard-biting  dog  of  good  size  speedily  gets 
accustomed  to  the  chase,  and  can  kill  a  peccary 
single-handed,  seizing  it  from  behind  and  worrying 
it  to  death,  or  watching  its  chance  and  grabbing 
it  by  the  back  of  the  neck  where  it  joins  the  head. 
Peccaries  have  delicately  moulded  short  legs, 
and  their  feet  are  small,  the  tracks  looking  pecu- 
liarly dainty  in  consequence.  Hence,  they  do 
not  swim  well,  though  they  take  to  the  water  if 
necessary.  They  feed  on  roots,  prickly  pears, 
nuts,  insects,  lizards,  etc.  They  usually  keep  en- 
tirely separate  from  the  droves  of  half -wild  swine 
that  are  so  often  found  in  the  same  neighborhoods ; 
but  in  one  case,  on  this  very  ranch  where  I  was 
staying,  a  peccary  deliberately  joined  a  party  of 
nine  pigs  and  associated  with  them.  When  the 
owner  of  the  pigs  came  up  to  them  one  day  the 
peccary  manifested  great  suspicion  at  his  pres- 
ence, and  finally  sidled  close  up  and  threatened  to 


A  Peccary  Hunt  on  the  Nueces    157 

attack  him,  so  that  he  had  to  shoot  it.  The 
ranchman's  son  told  me  that  he  had  never  but 
once  had  a  peccary  assail  him  unprovoked,  and 
even  in  this  case  it  was  his  dog  that  was  the 
object  of  attack,  the  peccary  rushing  out  at  it  as 
it  followed  him  home  one  evening  through  the 
chaparral.  Even  aroimd  this  ranch  the  peccaries 
had  very  greatly  decreased  in  numbers,  and  the 
survivors  were  learning  some  caution.  In  the 
old  days  it  had  been  no  uncommon  thing  for  a 
big  band  to  attack  entirely  of  their  own  accord, 
and  keep  a  hunter  up  a  tree  for  hours  at  a  time. 


CHAPTER  VII 

HUNTING   WITH   HOUNDS 

IN  hunting  American  big  game  with  hoimds 
several  entirely  distinct  methods  are  pur- 
sued. The  true  wilderness  hunters,  the  men 
who  in  the  early  days  lived  alone  in,  or  moved  in 
parties  through,  the  Indian -hatinted  solitudes, 
like  their  successors  of  to-day,  rarely  made  use 
of  a  pack  of  hounds,  and,  as  a  rule,  did  not  use 
dogs  at  all.  In  the  eastern  forests  occasionally 
an  old-time  hunter  would  own  one  or  two  track- 
hoimds,  slow,  with  a  good  nose,  intelligent  and 
obedient,  of  use  mainly  in  following  wounded 
game.  Some  Rocky  Mountain  hunters  nowadays 
employ  the  same  kind  of  dog,  but  the  old-time 
trappers  of  the  great  plains  and  the  Rockies  led 
such  wandering  lives  of  peril  and  hardship  that 
they  could  not  readily  take  dogs  with  them.  The 
hunters  of  the  Alleghanies  and  the  Adirondacks 
have,  however,  always  used  hounds  to  drive 
deer,  killing  the  animal  in  the  water  or  at  a 
runway. 

As  soon,  however,  as  the  old  wilderness-hunter 
type  passes  away,  hounds  come  into  use  among 

158 


Hunting  with  Hounds  159 

his  successors,  the  rough  border  settlers  of  the 
backwoods  and  the  plains.  Every  such  settler  is 
apt  to  have  four  or  five  large  mongrel  dogs  with 
hound  blood  in  them,  which  serve  to  drive  off 
beasts  of  prey  from  the  sheepfold  and  cattle-shed, 
and  are  also  used,  when  the  occasion  suits,  in 
regular  hunting,  whether  after  bear  or  deer. 

Many  of  the  southern  planters  have  always 
kept  packs  of  fox-hounds,  which  are  used  in  the 
chase,  not  only  of  the  gray  and  the  red  fox,  but 
also  of  the  deer,  the  black  bear,  and  the  wildcat. 
The  fox  the  dogs  themselves  run  down  and  kill, 
but  as  a  rule,  in  this  kind  of  hunting,  when  after 
deer,  bear,  or  even  wildcat,  the  hunters  carry 
gims  with  them  on  their  horses,  and  endeavor 
either  to  get  a  shot  at  the  fleeing  animal  by  hard 
and  dexterous  riding,  or  else  to  kill  the  cat  when 
treed,  or  the  bear  when  it  comes  to  bay.  Such 
hunting  is  great  sport. 

Killing  driven  game  by  lying  in  wait  for  it  to 
pass  is  the  very  poorest  kind  of  sport  that  can  be 
called  legitimate.  This  is  the  way  the  deer  is 
usually  killed  with  hounds  in  the  East.  In  the 
North  the  red  fox  is  often  killed  in  somewhat 
the  same  manner,  being  followed  by  a  slow  hound 
and  shot  at  as  he  circles  before  the  dog.  Although 
this  kind  of  fox-hunting  is  inferior  to  hunting  on 
horseback,  it  nevertheless  has  its  merits,  as  the 
man  must  walk  and  run  well,  shoot  with  some 


i6o         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

accuracy,  and  show  considerable  knowledge  both 
of  the  country  and  of  the  habits  of  the  game. 

During  the  last  score  of  years  an  entirely  dif- 
ferent type  of  dog  from  the  fox-hound  has  firmly 
established  itself  in  the  field  of  American  sport. 
This  is  the  greyhound,  whether  the  smooth- 
haired  or  the  rough-coated  Scotch  deerhound. 
For  half  a  century  the  army  officers  posted  in 
the  far  West  have  occasionally  had  greyhounds 
with  them,  using  the  dogs  to  course  jack-rabbit, 
coyote,  and  sometimes  deer,  antelope,  and  gray 
wolf.  Many  of  them  were  devoted  to  this  sport, 
— General  Custer,  for  instance.  I  have  myself 
hunted  with  many  of  the  descendants  of  Custer 
hounds.  In  the  early  '70's  the  ranchmen  of  the 
great  plains  themselves  began  to  keep  greyhounds 
for  coursing  (as  indeed  they  had  already  been 
used  for  a  considerable  time  in  California  after  the 
Pacific  coast  jack-rabbit),  and  the  sport  speedily 
assumed  large  proportions  and  a  permanent  form. 
Nowadays  the  ranchmen  of  the  cattle  country 
not  only  use  their  greyhounds  after  the  jack- 
rabbit,  but  also  after  every  other  kind  of  game 
animal  to  be  found  there,  the  antelope  and  coyote 
being  especial  favorites.  Many  ranchmen  soon 
grew  to  own  fine  packs,  coursing  being  the  sport 
of  all  sports  for  the  plains.  In  Texas  the  wild 
turkey  was  frequently  an  object  of  the  chase,  and 
wherever  the  locality  enabled  deer  to  be  followed 


Hunting  with  Hounds  i6i 

in  the  open,  as  for  instance  in  the  Indian  terri- 
tory, and  in  many  places  in  the  neighborhood  of 
the  large  plains  rivers,  the  whit et ail  was  a  favorite 
quarry,  the  hunters  striving  to  surprise  it  in  the 
early  morning  when  feeding  on  the  prairie. 

I  have  myself  generally  coursed  with  scratch 
packs,  including  perhaps  a  couple  of  greyhounds, 
a  wire-haired  deerhound,  and  two  or  three  long- 
legged  mongrels.  However,  we  generally  had  at 
least  one  very  fast  and  savage  dog — a  strike  dog 
— in  each  pack,  and  the  others  were  of  assistance 
in  turning  the  game,  sometimes  in  tiring  it,  and 
usually  in  helping  to  finish  it  at  the  worry.  With 
such  packs  I  have  had  many  a  wildly  exciting  ride 
over  the  great  grassy  plains  lying  near  the  Little 
Missouri  and  the  Knife  and  Heart  rivers.  Usually, 
our  proceedings  on  such  a  hunt  were  perfectly 
simple.  We  started  on  horseback,  and  when 
reaching  favorable  ground  beat  across  it  in  a  long 
scattered  line  of  men  and  dogs.  Anything  that 
we  put  up,  from  a  fox  to  a  coyote  or  a  prongbuck, 
was  fair  game,  and  was  instantly  followed  at  full 
speed.  The  animals  we  most  frequently  killed 
were  jack-rabbits.  They  always  gave  good  runs, 
though  like  other  game  they  differed  much  indi- 
vidually in  speed.  The  foxes  did  not  run  so  well, 
and,  whether  they  were  the  little  swift  or  the  big 
red  prairie-fox,  they  were  speedily  snapped  up  if 
the   dogs  had  a  fair  showing.     Once  our  dogs 


VOL.  II.  —  II. 


i62  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

roused  a  blacktail  buck  close  up  out  of  a  brush 
coulie  where  the  ground  was  moderately  smooth, 
and  after  a  headlong  chase  of  a  mile  they  ran 
into  him,  threw  him,  and  killed  him  before  he 
could  rise.  (His  stiff -legged  botinds  sent  him 
along  at  a  tremendous  pace  at  first,  but  he  seemed 
to  tire  rather  easily.)  On  two  or  three  occasions 
we  killed  whitetail  deer,  and  several  times  ante- 
lope. Usually,  however,  the  antelopes  escaped. 
The  bucks  sometimes  made  a  good  fight,  but  gen- 
erally they  were  seized  while  running,  some  dogs 
catching  by  the  throat,  others  by  the  shoulders, 
and  others  again  by  the  flank  just  in  front  of  the 
hind  leg.  Wherever  the  hold  was  obtained,  if  the 
dog  made  his  spring  cleverly,  the  buck  was  sure 
to  come  down  with  a  crash,  and  if  the  other  dogs 
were  anywhere  near  he  was  probably  killed  before 
he  could  rise,  although  not  infrequently  the  dogs 
themselves  were  more  or  less  scratched  in  the  con- 
tests. Some  greyhounds,  even  of  high  breeding, 
proved  absolutely  useless  from  timidity,  being 
afraid  to  take  hold;  but  if  they  got  accustomed 
to  the  chase,  being  worked  with  old  dogs,  and 
had  any  pluck  at  all,  they  proved  singularly  fear- 
less. A  big  ninety -pound  greyhound  or  Scotch 
deerhound  is  a  very  formidable  fighting  dog;  I 
saw  one  whip  a  big  mastiff  in  short  order,  his 
wonderful  agility  being  of  more  account  than  his 
adversary's  superior  weight. 


Hunting  with  Hounds  163 

The  proper  way  to  course,  however,  is  to  take 
the  dogs  out  in  a  wagon  and  drive  them  thus 
until  the  game  is  seen.  This  prevents  their  being 
tired  out.  In  my  own  hunting,  most  of  the  ante- 
lope aroused  got  away,  the  dogs  being  jaded  when 
the  chase  began.  But  really  fine  greyhounds, 
accustomed  to  work  together  and  to  hunt  this 
species  of  game,  will  usually  render  a  good  ac- 
count of  a  prongbuck  if  two  or  three  are  slipped 
at  once,  fresh,  and  within  a  moderate  distance. 

Although  most  Westerners  take  more  kindly  to 
the  rifle,  now  and  then  one  is  found  who  is  a 
devotee  of  the  hound.  Such  a  one  was  an  old 
Missourian,  who  may  be  called  Mr.  Cowley,  whom 
I  knew  when  he  was  living  on  a  ranch  in  North 
Dakota,  west  of  the  Missouri.  Mr.  Cowley  was  a 
primitive  person,  of  much  nerve,  which  he  showed 
not  only  in  the  hunting-field  but  in  the  startling 
political  conventions  of  the  place  and  period.  He 
was  quite  well  off,  but  he  was  above  the  niceties 
of  personal  vanity.  His  hunting  garb  was  that 
in  which  he  also  paid  his  rare  formal  calls — calls 
throughout  which  he  always  preserved  the  gravity 
of  an  Indian,  though  having  a  disconcerting  way 
of  suddenly  tip-toeing  across  the  room  to  some 
unfamiliar  object,  such  as  a  peacock  screen  or 
a  vase,  feeling  it  gently  with  one  forefinger, 
and  returning  with  noiseless  gait  to  his  chair, 
unmoved,    and   making    no   comment.     On  the 


1 64  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

morning  of  a  hunt  he  would  always  appear  on  a 
stout  horse,  clad  in  a  long  linen  duster,  a  huge  club 
in  his  hand,  and  his  trousers  working  half-way 
up  his  legs.  He  hunted  everything  on  all  possible 
occasions ;  and  he  never  under  any  circumstances 
shot  an  animal  that  the  dogs  could  kill.  Once, 
when  a  skunk  got  into  his  house,  with  the  direful 
stupidity  of  its  perverse  kind,  he  turned  the 
hounds  on  it — a  manifestation  of  sporting  spirit 
which  aroused  the  ire  of  even  his  long-suffering 
wife.  As  for  his  dogs,  provided  they  could  run 
and  fight,  he  cared  no  more  for  their  looks  than 
for  his  own;  he  preferred  the  animal  to  be  half 
greyhound,  but  the  other  half  could  be  fox-hound, 
collie,  or  setter — it  mattered  nothing  to  him.  They 
were  a  wicked,  hard-biting  crew  for  all  that,  and 
Mr.  Cowley,  in  his  flapping  linen  duster,  was  a  first- 
class  hunter  and  a  good  rider.  He  went  almost 
mad  with  excitement  in  every  chase.  His  pack 
usually  hunted  coyote,  fox,  jack-rabbit,  and  deer, 
and  I  have  had  more  than  one  good  run  with  it. 
My  own  experience  is  too  limited  to  allow  me 
to  pass  judgment  with  certainty  as  to  the  relative 
speed  of  the  different  beasts  of  the  chase,  espe- 
cially as  there  is  so  much  individual  variation.  I 
consider  the  antelope  the  fleetest  of  all,  however ; 
and  in  this  opinion  I  am  sustained  by  Colonel 
Roger  D.  Williams,  of  Lexington,  Kentucky,  who, 
more  than  any  other  American,   is  entitled  to 


Huntino^  with  Hounds  165 


^& 


speak  upon  coursing,  and  especially  upon  cours- 
ing large  game.  Colonel  Williams,  like  a  true 
son  of  Kentucky,  has  bred  his  own  thoroughbred 
horses  and  thoroughbred  hounds  for  many  years; 
and  during  a  series  of  long  hunting  trips  extend- 
ing over  nearly  a  quarter  of  a  century  he  has 
tried  his  pack  on  almost  every  game  animal  to 
be  found  among  the  foothills  of  the  Rockies  and 
on  the  great  plains.  His  dogs,  both  smooth- 
haired  greyhounds  and  rough-coated  deerhounds, 
have  been  bred  by  him  for  generations  with  a 
special  view  to  the  chase  of  big  game — not  merely 
of  hares ;  they  are  large  animals,  excelling  not  only 
in  speed  but  also  in  strength,  endurance,  and 
ferocious  courage.  The  survivors  of  his  old  pack 
are  literally  seamed  all  over  with  the  scars  of  in- 
numerable battles.  When  several  dogs  were  to- 
gether they  would  stop  a  bull  elk,  and  fearlessly 
assail  a  bear  or  cougar.  This  pack  scored  many 
a  triumph  over  blacktail,  whitetail,  and  prong- 
buck.  For  a  few  hundred  yards  the  deer  were 
very  fast;  but  in  a  run  of  any  duration  the  ante- 
lope showed  much  greater  speed,  and  gave  the 
dogs  far  more  trouble,  although  always  overtaken 
in  the  end,  if  a  good  start  had  been  obtained. 
Colonel  Williams  is  a  firm  believer  in  the  power 
of  the  thoroughbred  horse  to  outrun  any  animal 
that  breathes,  in  a  long  chase ;  he  has  not  infre- 
quently run  down  deer,  when  they  were  jumped 


i66         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

some  miles  from  cover;  and  on  two  or  three  oc- 
casions he  ran  down  uninjured  antelope,  but  in 
each  case  only  after  a  desperate  ride  of  miles, 
which  in  one  instance  resulted  in  the  death  of  his 
gallant  horse. 

This  coursing  on  the  prairie,  especially  after 
big  game,  is  an  exceedingly  manly  and  attract- 
ive sport;  the  furious  galloping,  often  over 
rough  ground  with  an  occasional  deep  washout 
or  gully,  the  sight  of  the  gallant  hounds  running 
and  tackling,  and  the  exhilaration  of  the  pure 
air  and  wild  surroundings,  all  combine  to  give  it 
a  peculiar  zest.  But  there  is  really  less  need  of 
bold  and  skilful  horsemanship  than  in  the  other- 
wise less  attractive  and  more  artificial  sport  of 
fox-hunting,  or  riding  to  hounds,  in  a  closed  and 
long-settled  country. 

Those  of  us  who  are  in  part  of  southern  blood 
have  a  hereditary  right  to  be  fond  of  cross- 
country riding;  for  our  forefathers  in  Virginia, 
Georgia,  or  the  Carolinas,  have  for  six  generations 
followed  the  fox  with  horse,  horn,  and  hound. 
In  the  long-settled  Northern  States  the  sport  has 
been  less  popular,  though  much  more  so  now  than 
formerly;  yet  it  has  always  existed,  here  and 
there,  and  in  certain  places  has  been  followed 
quite  steadily. 

In  no  place  in  the  Northeast  is  hunting  the  wild 
red  fox  put  on  a  more  genuine  and  healthy  basis 


Hunting  with  Hounds  167 

than  in  the  Genesee  valley,  in  central  New  York. 
There  has  always  been  fox-hunting  in  this  valley, 
the  farmers  having  good  horses  and  being  fond 
of  sport ;  but  it  was  conducted  in  a  very  irregular, 
primitive  manner,  until  some  twenty  years  ago 
Mr.  Austin  Wadsworth  turned  his  attention  to 
it.  He  has  been  master  of  fox-hounds  ever  since, 
and  no  pack  in  the  country  has  yielded  better 
sport  than  his,  or  has  brought  out  harder  riders 
among  the  men  and  stronger  jumpers  among  the 
horses.  Mr.  Wadsworth  began  his  hunting  by 
picking  up  some  of  the  various  trencher-fed  hounds 
of  the  neighborhood,  the  hunting  of  that  period 
being  managed  on  the  principle  of  each  farmer 
bringing  to  the  meet  the  hound  or  hounds  he 
happened  to  possess,  and  appearing  on  foot  or 
horseback,  as  his  fancy  dictated.  Having  gotten 
together  some  of  these  native  hounds  and  started 
fox-hunting  in  localities  where  the  ground  was  so 
open  as  to  necessitate  following  the  chase  on 
horseback,  Mr.  Wadsworth  imported  a  number 
of  dogs  from  the  best  English  kennels.  He  found 
these  to  be  much  faster  than  the  American  dogs 
and  more  accustomed  to  work  together,  but  less 
enduring,  and  without  such  good  noses.  The 
American  hounds  were  very  obstinate  and  self- 
willed.  Each  wished  to  work  out  the  trail  for 
himself.  But  once  found,  they  would  puzzle  it 
out,  no  matter  how  cold,  and  would  follow  it,  if 


1 68  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

necessary,  for  a  day  and  night.  By  a  judicious 
crossing  of  the  two  Mr.  Wadsworth  finally  got 
his  present  fine  pack,  which,  for  its  own  particular 
work  on  its  own  ground,  would  be  hard  to  beat. 
The  country  ridden  over  is  well  wooded,  and  there 
are  many  foxes  „  The  abundance  of  cover,  how- 
ever, naturally  decreases  the  number  of  kills.  It 
is  a  very  fertile  land,  and  there  are  few  farming 
regions  more  beautiful,  for  it  is  prevented  from 
being  too  tame  in  aspect  by  the  number  of  bold 
hills  and  deep  ravines.  Most  of  the  fences  are 
high  post-and-rails  or  "snake"  fences,  although 
there  is  an  occasional  stone  wall,  haha,  or  water- 
jump.  The  steepness  of  the  ravines  and  the 
density  of  the  timber  make  it  necessary  for  a 
horse  to  be  sure-footed  and  able  to  scramble  any- 
where, and  the  fences  are  so  high  that  none  but 
very  good  jumpers  can  possibly  follow  the  pack. 
Most  of  the  horses  used  are  bred  by  the  farmers 
in  the  neighborhood,  or  are  from  Canada,  and  they 
usually  have  thoroughbred  or  trotting-stock  blood 
in  them. 

One  of  the  pleasantest  days  I  ever  passed  in  the 
saddle  was  after  Mr.  Wadsworth's  hounds.  I  was 
staying  with  him  at  the  time,  in  company  with  my 
friend  Senator  Cabot  Lodge,  of  Boston.  The  meet 
was  about  twelve  miles  distant  from  the  house.  It 
was  only  a  small  field  of  some  twenty-five  riders, 
but  there  was  not  one  who  did  not  mean  going. 


Hunting  with  Hounds  169 

I  was  mounted  on  a  young  horse,  a  powerful,  big- 
boned  black,  a  great  jumper,  though  perhaps  a 
trifle  hot-headed.  Lodge  was  on  a  fine  bay, 
which  could  both  run  and  jump.  There  were 
two  or  three  other  New  Yorkers  and  Bostonians 
present,  several  men  who  had  come  up  from  Buf- 
falo for  the  run,  a  couple  of  retired  army  officers, 
a  number  of  farmers  from  the  neighborhood,  and, 
finally,  several  members  of  a  noted  local  family 
of  hard  riders,  who  formed  a  class  by  themselves, 
all  having  taken  naturally  to  every  variety  of 
horsemanship  from  earliest  infancy. 

It  was  a  thoroughly  democratic  assemblage; 
every  one  was  there  for  sport,  and  nobody  cared 
an  ounce  how  he  or  anybody  else  was  dressed. 
Slouch  hats,  brown  coats,  corduroy  breeches,  and 
leggings,  or  boots,  were  the  order  of  the  day. 
We  cast  off  in  a  thick  wood.  The  dogs  struck  a 
trail  almost  immediately  and  were  off  with  clam- 
orous yelping,  while  the  hunt  thundered  after 
them  like  a  herd  of  buffaloes.  We  went  head- 
long down  the  hillside  into  and  across  a  brook. 
Here  the  trail  led  straight  up  a  sheer  bank.  Most 
of  the  riders  struck  off  to  the  left  for  an  easier 
place,  which  was  unfortunate  for  them,  for  the 
eight  of  us  who  went  straight  up  the  side  (one 
man's  horse  falling  back  with  him)  were  the  only 
ones  who  kept  on  terms  with  the  hounds.  Almost 
as  soon  as  we  got  to  the  top  of  the  bank  we  came 


170  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

out  of  the  woods  over  a  low  but  awkward  rail 
fence,  where  one  of  our  number,  who  was  riding 
a  very  excitable  sorrel  colt,  got  a  fall.  This  left 
but  six,  including  the  whip.  There  were  two  or 
three  large  fields  with  low  fences;  then  we  came 
to  two  high,  stiff  doubles,  the  first  real  jumping 
of  the  day,  the  fences  being  over  four  feet  six, 
and  so  close  together  that  the  horses  barely  had 
a  chance  to  gather  themselves.  We  got  over, 
however,  crossed  two  or  three  stump-strewn  fields, 
galloped  through  an  open  wood,  picked  our  way 
across  a  marshy  spot,  jumped  a  small  brook  and 
two  or  three  stiff  fences,  and  then  came  a  check. 
Soon  the  hounds  recovered  the  line  and  swung  off 
to  the  right,  back  across  four  or  five  fields,  so  as 
to  enable  the  rest  of  the  hunt,  by  making  an 
angle,  to  come  up.  Then  we  jumped  over  a  very 
high  board  fence  into  the  main  road,  out  of  it 
again,  and  on  over  ploughed  fields  and  grass- 
lands, separated  by  stiff  snake  fences.  The  run 
had  been  fast  and  the  horses  were  beginning  to 
tail.  By  the  time  we  suddenly  rattled  down  into 
a  deep  ravine  and  scrambled  up  the  other  side 
through  thick  timber  there  were  but  four  of  us 
left.  Lodge  and  myself  being  two  of  the  lucky 
ones.  Beyond  this  ravine  we  came  to  one  of  the 
worst  jumps  of  the  day,  a  fence  out  of  the  wood, 
which  was  practicable  only  at  one  spot,  where  a 
kind  of  cattle  trail  led  up  to  a  panel.     It  was 


Hunting  with  Hounds  171 

within  an  inch  or  two  of  five  feet  high.  How- 
ever, the  horses,  thoroughly  trained  to  timber 
jumping  and  to  rough  and  hard  scrambling  in 
awkward  places,  and  by  this  time  well  quieted, 
took  the  bars  without  mistake,  each  one  in  turn 
trotting  or  cantering  up  to  within  a  few  yards, 
then  making  a  couple  of  springs  and  bucking  over 
with  a  great  twist  of  the  powerful  haunches.  I 
may  explain  that  there  was  not  a  horse  of  the 
four  that  had  not  a  record  of  five  feet  six  inches 
in  the  ring.  We  now  got  into  a  perfect  tangle 
of  ravines,  and  the  fox  went  to  earth ;  and  though 
we  started  one  or  two  more  in  the  course  of  the 
afternoon,  we  did  not  get  another  really  first-class 
run. 

At  Geneseo  the  conditions  for  the  enjoyment 
of  this  sport  are  exceptionally  favorable.  In  the 
Northeast  generally,  although  there  are  now  a 
number  of  well-established  hunts,  at  least  nine 
out  of  ten  runs  are  after  a  drag.  Most  of  the 
hunts  are  in  the  neighborhood  of  great  cities,  and 
are  mainly  kept  up  by  young  men  who  come 
from  them.  A  few  of  these  are  men  of  leisure, 
who  can  afford  to  devote  their  whole  time  to 
pleasure;  but  much  the  larger  number  are  men 
in  business,  who  work  hard  and  are  obliged  to 
make  their  sports  accommodate  themselves  to 
their  more  serious  occupations.  Once  or  twice 
a  week  they  can  get  off  for  an  afternoon's  ride 


172  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

across  country,  and  they  then  wish  to  be  abso- 
lutely certain  of  having  their  run,  and  of  having 
it  at  the  appointed  time;  and  the  only  way  to 
insure  this  is  to  have  a  drag-hunt.  It  is  not  the 
lack  of  foxes  that  has  made  the  sport  so  com- 
monly take  the  form  of  riding  to  drag-hounds, 
but  rather  the  fact  that  the  majority  of  those 
who  keep  it  up  are   hardworking  business  men  || 

who  wish  to  make  the  most  out  of  every  moment 
of  the  little  time  they  can  spare  from  their  regu- 
lar occupations.  A  single  ride  across  country,  or 
an  afternoon  at  polo,  will  yield  more  exercise,  fun, 
and  excitement  than  can  be  got  out  of  a  week's 
decorous  and  dull  riding  in  the  park,  and  many 
young  fellows  have  waked  up  to  this  fact. 

At  one  time  I  did  a  good  deal  of  hunting  with 
the  Meadowbrook  hounds  in  the  northern  part  of 
Long  Island.  There  were  plenty  of  foxes  around 
us,  both  red  and  gray,  but  partly  for  the  reasons 
given  above,  and  partly  because  the  covers  were 
so  large  and  so  nearly  continuous,  they  were  not 
often  hunted,  although  an  effort  was  always  made 
to  have  one  run  every  week  or  so  after  a  wild  fox, 
in  order  to  give  a  chance  for  the  hounds  to  be 
properly  worked  and  to  prevent  the  runs  from  be- 
coming a  mere  succession  of  steeple-chases.  The 
sport  was  mainly  drag-hunting,  and  was  most  ex- 
citing, as  the  fences  were  high  and  the  pace  fast. 
The  Long  Island  country  needs  a  peculiar  style 


Hunting  with  Hounds  173 

of  horse,  the  first  requisite  being  that  he  shall  be 
a  very  good  and  high-timber  jumper.  Quite  a 
number  of  crack  English  and  Irish  hunters  have 
at  different  times  been  imported,  and  some  of 
them  have  turned  out  pretty  well ;  but  when  they 
first  come  over  they  are  utterly  imable  to  cross 
our  country,  blundering  badly  at  the  high  timber. 
Few  of  them  have  done  as  well  as  the  American 
horses.  I  have  hunted  half  a  dozen  times  in 
England,  with  the  Pytchely,  Essex,  and  North 
Warwickshire,  and  it  seems  to  me  probable  that 
English  thoroughbreds,  in  a  grass  country,  and 
over  the  peculiar  kinds  of  obstacles  they  have  on 
the  other  side  of  the  water,  would  gallop  away  from 
a  field  of  our  Long  Island  horses;  for  they  have 
speed  and  bottom,  and  are  great  weight  carriers. 
But  on  our  own  ground,  where  the  cross-country 
riding  is  more  like  leaping  a  succession  of  five- 
and  six-bar  gates  than  anything  else,  they  do  not 
as  a  rule,  in  spite  of  the  enormous  prices  paid  for 
them,  show  themselves  equal  to  the  native  stock. 
The  highest  recorded  jump,  seven  feet  two  inches, 
was  made  by  the  American  horse  Filemaker, 
which  I  saw  ridden  in  the  very  front  by  Mr.  H.  L. 
Herbert,  in  the  hunt  at  Sagamore  Hill,  about  to 
be  described. 

When  I  was  a  member  of  the  Meadowbrook 
hunt,  most  of  the  meets  were  held  within  a 
dozen  miles  or  so  of  the  kennels :  at  Farmingdale, 


174  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

Woodbury,  Wheatly,  Locust  Valley,  Syosset,  or 
near  any  one  of  twenty  other  queer,  quaint  old 
Long  Island  hamlets.  They  were  almost  always 
held  in  the  afternoon,  the  business  men  who  had 
come  down  from  the  city  jogging  over  behind  the 
hounds  to  the  appointed  place,  where  they  were 
met  by  the  men  who  had  ridden  over  direct 
from  their  country-houses.  If  the  meet  was  an 
important  one,  there  might  be  a  crowd  of  on- 
lookers in  every  kind  of  trap,  from  a  four-in-hand 
drag  to  a  spider-wheeled  buggy  drawn  by  a  pair 
of  long-tailed  trotters,  the  money  value  of  which 
many  times  surpassed  that  of  the  two  best  hunt- 
ers in  the  whole  field.  Now  and  then  a  breakfast 
would  be  given  the  hunt  at  some  country-house, 
when  the  whole  day  was  devoted  to  the  sport; 
perhaps  after  wild  foxes  in  the  morning,  with  a 
drag  in  the  afternoon. 

After  one  meet,  at  Sagamore  Hill,  I  had  the 
curiosity  to  go  on  foot  over  the  course  we  had 
taken,  measuring  the  jumps;  for  it  is  very  diffi- 
cult to  form  a  good  estimate  of  a  fence's  height 
when  in  the  field,  and  five  feet  of  timber  seems 
a  much  easier  thing  to  take  when  sitting  around 
the  fire  after  dinner  than  it  does  when  actually 
faced  while  the  hounds  are  running.  On  the  par- 
ticular hunt  in  question  we  ran  about  ten  miles, 
at  a  rattling  pace,  with  only  two  checks,  crossing 
somewhat  more  than  sixty  fences,  most  of  them 


Hunting  with  Hounds  175 

post-and-rails,  stiff  as  steel,  the  others  being  of 
the  kind  called  ''  Virginia  "  or  snake,  and  not  more 
than  ten  or  a  dozen  in  the  whole  lot  under  four 
feet  in  height.     The  highest  measured  five  feet 
and  half  an  inch,  two  others  were  four  feet  eleven, 
and  nearly  a  third  of  the  number  averaged  about 
four  and  a  half.     There  were  also  several  rather 
awkward  doubles.     When  the  hounds  were  cast 
off  some  forty  riders  were  present,  but  the  first 
fence  was  a  savage  one,  and  stopped  all  who 
did  not  mean  genuine  hard  going.     Twenty -six 
horses  crossed  it,  one  of  them  ridden  by  a  lady. 
A  mile  or  so  farther  on,  before  there  had  been  a 
chance  for  much  tailing,  we  came  to  a  five-bar 
gate,  out  of  a  road — a  jump  of  just  four  feet  five 
inches  from  the  take-off.     Up  to  this,  of  course, 
we  went  one  at  a  time,  at  a  trot  or  hand-gallop, 
and  twenty-five  horses  cleared  it  in  succession 
without  a  single  refusal  and  with  but  one  mis- 
take.    Owing  to  the  severity  of  the  pace,  com^ 
bined  with   the    average    height  of    the   timber 
(although  no   one  fence  was   of    phenomenally 
noteworthy  proportions),  a  good  many  falls  took 
place,  resulting  in  an  unusually  large  percentage 
of  accidents.     The  master  partly  dislocated  one 
knee,  another  man  broke  two  ribs,  and  another 
— the  present  writer — broke  his  arm.     However, 
almost  all  of  us  managed  to  struggle  through  to 
the  end  in  time  to  see  the  death. 


176  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

On  this  occasion  I  owed  my  broken  arm  to 
the  fact  that  my  horse,  a  solemn  animal,  origi- 
nally taken  out  of  a  buggy,  though  a  very  clever 
fencer,  was  too  coarse  to  gallop  alongside  the 
blooded  beasts  against  which  he  was  pitted.  But 
he  was  so  easy  in  his  gaits,  and  so  quiet,  being 
ridden  with  only  a  snaffle,  that  there  was  no  dif- 
ficulty in  following  to  the  end  of  the  run.  I  had 
divers  adventures  on  this  horse.  Once  I  tried  a 
pair  of  so-called  "safety"  stirrups,  which  speedily 
fell  out,  and  I  had  to  ride  through  the  run  with- 
out any,  at  the  cost  of  several  tumbles.  Much 
the  best  hunter  I  ever  owned  was  a  sorrel  horse 
named  Sagamore.  He  was  from  Geneseo,  was 
fast,  a  remarkably  good  jumper,  of  great  endu- 
rance, as  quick  on  his  feet  as  a  cat,  and  with  a 
dauntless  heart.  He  never  gave  me  a  fall,  and 
generally  enabled  me  to  see  all  the  run. 

It  would  be  very  unfair  to  think  the  sport 
especially  dangerous  on  account  of  the  occasional 
accidents  that  happen.  A  man  who  is  fond  of 
riding,  but  who  sets  a  good  deal  of  value — either 
for  the  sake  of  himself,  his  family,  or  his  busi- 
ness— upon  his  neck  and  limbs,  can  hunt  with 
much  safety  if  he  gets  a  quiet  horse,  a  safe  fencer, 
and  does  not  try  to  stay  in  the  front  rank.  Most 
accidents  occur  to  men  on  green  or  wild  horses, 
or  else  to  those  who  keep  in  front  only  at  the 
expense  of  pumping  their   mounts;    and  a  fall 


Hunting  with  Hounds  177 

with  a  done-out  beast  is  always  peculiarly  dis- 
agreeable. Most  falls,  however,  do  no  harm 
whatever  to  either  horse  or  rider,  and  after  they 
have  picked  themselves  up  and  shaken  them- 
selves, the  couple  ought  to  be  able  to  go  on  just 
as  well  as  ever.  Of  course  a  man  who  wishes  to 
keep  in  the  first  flight  must  expect  to  face  a 
certain  number  of  tumbles;  but  even  he  will 
probably  not  be  hurt  at  all,  and  he  can  avoid 
many  a  mishap  by  easing  up  his  horse  whenever 
he  can — that  is,  by  always  taking  a  gap  when 
possible,  going  at  the  lowest  panel  of  every  fence, 
and  not  calling  on  his  animal  for  all  there  is  in 
him  unless  it  cannot  possibly  be  avoided.  It 
must  be  remembered  that  hard  riding  is  a  very 
different  thing  from  good  riding;  though  a 
good  rider  to  hounds  must  also  at  times  ride 
hard. 

Cross-country  riding  in  the  rough  is  not  a  diffi- 
cult thing  to  learn;  always  provided  the  would- 
be  learner  is  gifted  with  or  has  acquired  a  fairly 
stout  heart,  for  a  constitutionally  timid  person  is 
out  of  place  in  the  hunting  field.  A  really  finished 
cross-country  rider,  a  man  who  combines  hand 
and  seat,  heart  and  head,  is  of  course  rare;  the 
standard  is  too  high  for  most  of  us  to  hope  to 
reach.  But  it  is  comparatively  easy  to  acquire 
a  light  hand  and  a  capacity  to  sit  fairly  well  down 
in  the  saddle ;  and  when  a  man  has  once  got  these, 


VOL.  II. — 12. 


178  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

he  will  find  no  especial  difficulty  in  following  the 
hounds  on  a  trained  hunter. 

Fox-hunting  is  a  great  sport,  but  it  is  as  foolish 
to  make  a  fetish  of  it  as  it  is  to  decry  it.  The 
fox  is  hunted  merely  because  there  is  no  larger 
game  to  follow.  As  long  as  wolves,  deer,  or  ante- 
lope remain  in  the  land,  and  in  a  country  where 
hounds  and  horsemen  can  work,  no  one  would 
think  of  following  the  fox.  It  is  pursued  because 
the  bigger  beasts  of  the  chase  have  been  killed 
out.  In  England  it  has  reached  its  present  prom- 
inence only  within  two  centuries;  nobody  fol- 
lowed the  fox  while  the  stag  and  the  boar  were 
common.  At  the  present  day,  on  Exmoor,  where 
the  wild  stag  is  still  found,  its  chase  ranks  ahead 
of  that  of  the  fox.  It  is  not  really  the  hunting 
proper  which  is  the  point  in  fox-hunting.  It  is 
the  horsemanship,  the  galloping  and  jumping,  and 
the  being  out  in  the  open  air.  Very  naturally, 
however,  men  who  have  passed  their  lives  as  fox- 
hunters  grow  to  regard  the  chase  and  the  object 
of  it  alike  with  superstitious  veneration.  They 
attribute  almost  mythical  characters  to  the  ani- 
mal. I  know  some  of  my  good  Virginian  friends, 
for  instance,  who  seriously  believe  that  the  Vir- 
ginia red  fox  is  a  beast  quite  unparalleled  for 
speed  and  endurance  no  less  than  for  cunning. 
This  is,  of  course,  a  mistake.  Compared  with  a 
wolf,  an  antelope,  or  even  a  deer,  the  fox's  speed 


Hunting  with  Hounds  179 

and  endurance  do  not  stand  very  high.  A  good 
pack  of  hounds  starting  him  close  would  speedily 
run  into  him  in  the  open.  The  reason  that  the 
hunts  last  so  long  in  some  cases  is  because  of 
the  nature  of  the  ground  which  favors  the  fox  at 
the  expense  of  the  dogs,  because  of  his  having  the 
advantage  in  the  start,  and  because  of  his  cun- 
ning in  turning  to  account  everything  which  will 
tell  in  his  favor  and  against  his  pursuers.  In 
the  same  way  I  know  plenty  of  English  friends 
who  speak  with  bated  breath  of  fox-hunting 
but  look  down  upon  riding  to  drag-hounds.  Of 
course  there  is  a  difference  in  the  two  sports, 
and  the  fun  of  actually  hunting  the  wild  beast 
in  the  one  case  more  than  compensates  for  the 
fact  that  in  the  other  the  riding  is  apt  to  be 
harder  and  the  jumping  higher;  but  both  sports 
are  really  artificial,  and  in  their  essentials  alike. 
To  any  man  who  has  hunted  big  game  in  a  wild 
country  the  stress  laid  on  the  differences  between 
them  seems  a  little  absurd,  in  fact  cockney.  It 
is  of  course  nothing  against  either  that  it  is  arti- 
ficial ;  so  are  all  sports  in  long-civilized  countries, 
from  lacrosse  to  ice-yachting. 

It  is  amusing  to  see  how  natural  it  is  for  each 
man  to  glorify  the  sport  to  which  he  has  been 
accustomed  at  the  expense  of  any  other.  The 
old-school  French  sportsman,  for  instance,  who 
followed  the  boar,  stag,  and  hare  with  his  hounds, 


i8o  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

always  looked  down  upon  the  chase  of  the  fox; 
whereas  the  average  Englishman  not  only  asserts 
but  seriously  believes  that  no  other  kind  of  chase 
can  compare  with  it,  although  in  actual  fact  the 
very  points  in  which  the  Englishman  is  superior 
to  the  continental  sportsman — -that  is,  in  hard 
and  straight  riding  and  jumping — are  those  which 
drag-hunting  tends  to  develop  rather  more  than 
fox-hunting  proper.  In  the  mere  hunting  itself 
the  continental  sportsman  is  often  unsurpassed. 

Once,  beyond  the  Missouri,  I  met  an  expatriated 
German  baron,  an  unfortunate  who  had  failed  ut- 
terly in  the  rough  life  of  the  frontier.  He  was 
living  in  a  squalid  little  hut,  almost  unfurnished, 
but  studded  around  with  the  diminutive  horns 
of  the  European  roebuck.  These  were  the  only 
treasures  he  had  taken  with  him  to  remind  him 
of  his  former  life,  and  he  was  never  tired  of  de- 
scribing what  fun  it  was  to  shoot  roebucks  when 
driven  by  the  little  crooked-legged  dachshunds. 
There  were  plenty  of  deer  and  antelope  round- 
about, yielding  good  sport  to  any  rifleman,  but 
this  exile  cared  nothing  for  them;  they  were  not 
roebucks,  and  they  could  not  be  chased  with  his 
beloved  dachshunds.  So,  among  my  neighbors  in 
the  cattle  country,  is  a  gentleman  from  France,  a 
very  successful  ranchman,  and  a  thoroughly  good 
fellow;  he  cares  nothing  for  hunting  big  game, 
and  will  not  go  after  it,  but  is  devoted  to  shoot- 


Hunting  with  Hounds  i8i 

ing  cottontails  in  the  snow,  this  being  a  pastime 
having  much  resemblance  to  one  of  the  recog- 
nized sports  of  his  own  land. 

However,  our  own  people  afford  precisely  simi- 
lar instances.  I  have  met  plenty  of  men  accus- 
tomed to  killing  wild  turkeys  and  deer  with 
small-bore  rifles  in  the  southern  forests  who, 
when  they  got  on  the  plains  and  in  the  Rockies, 
were  absolutely  helpless.  They  not  only  failed 
to  become  proficient  in  the  art  of  killing  big 
game  at  long  ranges  with  the  large-bore  rifle,  at 
the  cost  of  fatiguing  tramps,  but  they  had  a  posi- 
tive distaste  for  the  sport  and  would  never  allow 
that  it  equalled  their  own  stealthy  hunts  in  east- 
ern forests.  So  I  know  plenty  of  men,  experts 
with  the  shotgun,  who  honestly  prefer  shooting 
quail  in  the  East  over  well-trained  setters  or 
pointers,  to  the  hardier,  manlier  sports  of  the 
wilderness. 

As  it  is  with  hunting,  so  it  is  with  riding.  The 
cowboy's  scorn  of  every  method  of  riding  save 
his  own  is  as  profound  and  as  ignorant  as  is  that 
of  the  school-rider,  jockey,  or  fox-hunter.  The 
truth  is  that  each  of  these  is  best  in  his  own 
sphere  and  is  at  a  disadvantage  when  made  to  do 
the  work  of  any  of  the  others.  For  all-around 
riding  and  horsemanship,  I  think  the  West  Point 
graduate  is  somewhat  ahead  of  any  of  them. 
Taken  as  a  class,  however,  and  compared  with 


1 82         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

other  classes  as  numerous,  and  not  with  a  few 
exceptional  individuals,  the  cowboy,  like  the 
Rocky  Mountain  stage-driver,  has  no  superiors 
an3rwhere  for  his  own  work;  and  they  are  fine 
fellows,  these  iron-nerved  reinsmen  and  rough 
riders. 

When  Buffalo  Bill  took  his  cowboys  to  Europe 
they  made  a  practice  in  England,  France,  Ger- 
many, and  Italy,  of  offering  to  break  and  ride,  in 
their  own  fashion,  any  horse  given  them.  They 
were  frequently  given  spoiled  animals  from  the 
cavalry  services  in  the  different  countries  which 
they  passed,  animals  with  which  the  trained 
horse-breakers  of  the  European  armies  could  do 
nothing;  and  yet  in  almost  all  cases  the  cow- 
punchers  and  bronco-busters  with  Buffalo  Bill 
mastered  these  beasts  as  readily  as  they  did  their 
own  western  horses.  At  their  own  work  of  mas- 
tering and  riding  rough  horses  they  could  not 
be  matched  by  their  more  civilized  rivals;  but  I 
have  great  doubts  whether  they  in  turn  would 
not  have  been  beaten  if  they  had  essayed  kinds 
of  horsemanship  utterly  alien  to  their  past  ex- 
perience, such  as  riding  mettled  thoroughbreds  in 
a  steeple-chase,  or  the  like.  Other  things  being 
equal  (which,  however,  they  generally  are  not), 
a  bad,  big  horse  fed  on  oats  offers  a  rather  more 
difficult  problem  than  a  bad  little  horse  fed  on 
grass.     After  Buffalo  Bill's  men  had  returned,  I 


Hunting  with  Hounds  183 

occasionally  heard  it  said  that  they  had  tried  cross- 
country riding  in  England,  and  had  shown  them- 
selves pre-eminently  skilful  thereat,  doing  better 
than  the  English  fox-hunters,  but  this  I  take  the 
liberty  to  disbelieve.  I  was  in  England  at  the 
time,  hunted  occasionally  myself,  and  was  with 
many  of  the  men  who  were  all  the  time  riding  in 
the  most  famous  hunts;  men,  too,  who  were 
greatly  impressed  with  the  exhibitions  of  rough 
riding  then  being  given  by  Buffalo  Bill  and  his 
men,  and  who  talked  of  them  much;  and  yet  I 
never,  at  the  time,  heard  of  an  instance  in  which 
one  of  the  cowboys  rode  to  hounds  with  any 
marked  success.'  In  the  same  way,  I  have  some- 
times in  New  York  or  London  heard  of  men  who, 
it  was  alleged,  had  been  out  West  and  proved 
better  riders  than  the  bronco-busters  themselves, 
just  as  I  have  heard  of  similar  men  who  were  able 
to  go  out  hunting  in  the  Rockies  or  on  the  plains 
and  get  more  game  than  the  western  hunters ;  but 
in  the  course  of  a  long  experience  in  the  West  I 
have  yet  to  see  any  of  these  men,  whether  from 
the  eastern  States  or  from  Europe,  actually  show 
such  superiority  or  perform  such  feats. 

It  would  be  interesting  to  compare  the  per- 

^  It  is,  however,  quite  possible,  now  that  Buffalo  Bill's 
company  has  crossed  the  water  several  times,  that  a  number 
of  the  cowboys  have  by  practice  become  proficient  in  riding 
to  hounds,  and  in  steeple-chasing. 


1 84  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

formances  of  the  Australian  stock-riders  with 
those  of  our  own  cow-punchers,  both  in  cow-work 
and  in  riding.  The  Austrahans  have  an  entirely 
different  kind  of  saddle,  and  the  use  of  the  rope 
is  unknown  among  them.  A  couple  of  years  ago 
the  famous  western  rifle-shot.  Carver,  took  some 
cowboys  out  to  Australia,  and  I  am  informed 
that  many  of  the  Australians  began  themselves 
to  practise  with  the  rope  after  seeing  the  way 
it  was  used  by  the  Americans.  An  Australian 
gentleman,  Mr.  A.  J.  Sage,  of  Melbourne,  to  whom 
I  had  written  asking  how  the  saddles  and  styles  of 
riding  compared,  answered  me  as  follows: 

"With  regard  to  saddles,  here  it  is  a  moot 
question  which  is  the  better,  yours  or  ours,  for 
buck-jumpers.  Carver's  boys  rode  in  their  own 
saddles  against  our  Victorians  in  theirs,  all  on 
Australian  buckers,  and  honors  seemed  easy. 
Each  was  good  in  his  own  style,  but  the  horses 
were  not  what  I  should  call  really  good  buckers, 
such  as  you  might  get  on  a  back  station,  and 
so  there  was  nothing  in  the  show  that  could  un- 
seat the  cowboys.  It  is  only  back  in  the  bush 
that  you  can  get  a  really  good  bucker.  I  have 
often  seen  one  of  them  put  both  man  and  saddle 
off." 

This  last  is  a  feat  I  have  myself  seen  per- 
formed in  the  West.  I  suppose  the  amount  of  it 
is  that  both  the  American  and  the  Australian 


Hunting  with  Hounds  185 

rough  riders  are,  for  their  own  work,  just  as  good 
as  men  possibly  can  be. 

One  spring  I  had  to  leave  the  East  in  the  midst 
of  the  hunting  season,  to  join  a  round-up  in  the 
cattle  country  of  western  Dakota,  and  it  was 
curious  to  compare  the  totally  different  styles  of 
riding  of  the  cowboys  and  the  cross-country  men. 
A  stock-saddle  weighs  thirty  or  forty  pounds,  in- 
stead of  ten  or  fifteen,  and  needs  an  utterly  dif- 
ferent seat  from  that  adopted  in  the  East.  A 
cowboy  rides  with  very  long  stirrups,  sitting 
forked  well  down  between  his  high  pommel  and 
cantle,  and  depends  upon  balance  as  well  as  on 
the  grip  of  his  thighs.  In  cutting  out  a  steer  from 
a  herd,  in  breaking  a  vicious  wild  horse,  in  sitting 
a  bucking  bronco,  in  stopping  a  night  stampede  of 
many  hundred  maddened  animals,  or  in  the  per- 
formance of  a  hundred  other  feats  of  reckless  and 
daring  horsemanship,  the  cowboy  is  absolutely 
unequalled;  and  when  he  has  his  own  horse-gear 
he  sits  his  animal  with  the  ease  of  a  centaur. 
Yet  he  is  quite  helpless  the  first  time  he  gets 
astride  one  of  the  small  eastern  saddles.  One 
summer,  while  purchasing  cattle  in  Iowa,  one  of 
of  my  ranch  foremen  had  to  get  on  an  ordinary 
saddle  to  ride  out  of  town  and  see  a  bunch  of 
steers.  He  is  perhaps  the  best  rider  on  the  ranch, 
and  will  without  hesitation  mount  and  master 
beasts  that  I  doubt  if  the  boldest  rider  in  one  of 


1 86  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

our  eastern  hunts  would  care  to  tackle ;  yet  his 
uneasiness  on  the  new  saddle  was  fairly  comical. 
At  first  he  did  not  dare  to  trot,  and  the  least 
plunge  of  the  horse  bid  fair  to  unseat  him,  nor 
did  he  begin  to  get  accustomed  to  the  situation 
until  the  very  end  of  the  journey.  In  fact,  the 
two  kinds  of  riding  are  so  very  different  that  a 
man  accustomed  only  to  one  feels  almost  as  ill 
at  ease  when  he  first  tries  the  other  as  if  he  had 
never  sat  on  a  horse's  back  before.  It  is  rather 
funny  to  see  a  man  who  only  knows  one  kind, 
and  is  conceited  enough  to  think  that  that  is 
really  the  only  kind  worth  knowing,  when  first 
he  is  brought  into  contact  with  the  other.  Two 
or  three  times  I  have  known  men  try  to  follow 
hounds  on  stock-saddles,  which  are  about  as  ill- 
suited  for  the  purpose  as  they  well  can  be ;  while 
it  is  even  more  laughable  to  see  some  young  fel- 
low from  the  East  or  from  England,  who  thinks  he 
knows  entirely  too  much  about  horses  to  be  taught 
by  barbarians,  attempt  in  his  turn  to  do  cow- work 
with  his  ordinary  riding  or  hunting  rig.  It  must 
be  said,  however,  that  in  all  probability  cowboys 
would  learn  to  ride  well  across  country  much  sooner 
than  the  average  cross-country  rider  would  master 
the  dashing  and  peculiar  style  of  horsemanship 
shown  by  those  whose  life  business  is  to  guard  the 
wandering  herds  of  the  great  western  plains. 
Of  course,  riding  to  hounds,  like  all  sports  in 


Hunting  with  Hounds  187 

long  settled,  thickly  peopled  countries,  fails  to 
develop  in  its  followers  some  of  the  hardy  quali- 
ties necessarily  incident  to  the  wilder  pursuits  of 
the  mountain  and  the  forest.  While  I  was  on 
the  frontier  I  was  struck  by  the  fact  that  of  the 
men  from  the  eastern  States  or  from  England  who 
had  shown  themselves  at  home  to  be  good  riders 
to  hounds  or  had  made  their  records  as  college 
athletes,  a  larger  proportion  failed  in  the  life  of 
the  wilderness  than  was  the  case  among  those 
who  had  gained  their  experience  in  such  rough 
pastimes  as  mountaineering  in  the  high  Alps, 
winter  caribou-hunting  in  Canada,  or  deer-stalk- 
ing— not  deer-driving — in  Scotland. 

Nevertheless,  of  all  sports  possible  in  civilized 
countries,  riding  to  hounds  is  perhaps  the  best 
if  followed  as  it  should  be,  for  the  sake  of  the 
strong  excitement,  with  as  much  simplicity  as 
possible,  and  not  merely  as  a  fashionable  amuse- 
ment. It  tends  to  develop  moral  no  less  than 
physical  qualities;  the  rider  needs  nerve  and 
head;  he  must  possess  daring  and  resolution,  as 
well  as  a  good  deal  of  bodily  skill  and  a  certain 
amount  of  wiry  toughness  and  endurance. 


CHAPTER  VIII 

WOLVES   AND    WOLF-HOUNDS 

THE  wolf  is  the  archetype  of  ravin,  the  beast 
of  waste  and  desolation.  It  is  still  found 
scattered  thinly  throughout  all  the  wilder 
portions  of  the  United  States,  but  has  everywhere 
retreated  from  the  advance  of  civilization. 

Wolves  show  an  infinite  variety  in  color,  size, 
physical  formation,  and  temper.  Almost  all  the 
varieties  intergrade  with  one  another,  however,  so 
that  it  is  very  difficult  to  draw  a  hard  and  fast 
line  between  any  two  of  them.  Nevertheless, 
west  of  the  Mississippi  there  are  found  two  dis- 
tinct types.  One  is  the  wolf  proper,  or  big  wolf, 
specifically  akin  to  the  wolves  of  the  eastern 
States.  The  other  is  the  little  coyote,  or  prairie 
wolf.  The  coyote  and  the  big  wolf  are  found 
together  in  almost  all  the  wilder  districts  from 
the  Rio  Grande  to  the  valleys  of  the  Upper  Mis- 
souri and  the  Upper  Columbia.  Throughout  this 
region  there  is  always  a  sharp  line  of  demark- 
ation,  especially  in  size,  between  the  coyotes 
and  the  big  wolves  of  any  given  district;  but  in 
certain  districts  the  big  wolves  are  very  much 

i88 


Wolves  and  Wolf-Hounds        189 

larger  than  their  brethren  in  other  districts.  In 
the  Upper  Columbia  country,  for  instance,  they 
are  very  large;  along  the  Rio  Grande  they  are 
small.  Dr.  Hart  Merriam  informs  me  that,  ac- 
cording to  his  experience,  the  coyote  is  largest  in 
southern  California.  In  many  respects  the  coyote 
differs  altogether  in  habits  from  its  big  relative. 
For  one  thing  it  is  far  more  tolerant  of  man.  In 
some  localities  coyotes  are  more  numerous  around 
settlements,  and  even  in  the  close  vicinity  of  large 
towns,  than  they  are  in  the  frowning  and  desolate 
fastnesses  haunted  by  their  grim  elder  brother. 

Big  wolves  vary  far  more  in  color  than  the 
coyotes  do.  I  have  seen  white,  black,  red,  yel- 
low, brown,  gray,  and  grizzled  skins,  and  others 
representing  every  shade  between,  although  usu- 
ally each  locality  has  its  prevailing  tint.  The 
grizzled,  gray,  and  brown  often  have  precisely 
the  coat  of  the  coyote.  The  difference  in  size 
among  wolves  of  different  localities,  and  even  of 
the  same  locality,  is  quite  remarkable,  and  so, 
curiously  enough,  is  the  difference  in  the  size  of 
the  teeth,  in  some  cases  even  when  the  body  of 
one  wolf  is  as  big  as  that  of  another.  I  have 
seen  wolves  from  Texas  and  New  Mexico  which 
were  undersized,  slim  animals  with  rather  small 
tusks,  in  no  way  to  be  compared  to  the  long- 
toothed  giants  of  their  race  that  dwell  in  the 
heavily  timbered  mountains  of  the  Northwest  and 


190  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

in  the  far  North.  As  a  rule,  the  teeth  of  the  coyote 
are  relatively  smaller  than  those  of  the  gray  wolf. 
Formerly,  wolves  were  incredibly  abundant  in 
certain  parts  of  the  coimtry,  notably  on  the  great 
plains,  where  they  were  known  as  buffalo- wolves, 
and  were  regular  attendants  on  the  great  herds  of 
the  bison.  Every  traveller  and  hunter  of  the  old 
days  knew  them  as  among  the  most  common  sights 
of  the  plains,  and  they  followed  the  hunting  par- 
ties and  emigrant  trains  for  the  sake  of  the  scraps 
left  in  camp.  Now,  however,  there  is  no  district 
in  which  they  are  really  abundant.  The  wolfers, 
or  professional  wolf -hunters,  who  killed  them  by 
poisoning  for  the  sake  of  their  fur,  and  the  cattle- 
men, who  likewise  killed  them  by  poisoning  be- 
cause of  their  raids  on  the  herds,  have  doubtless 
been  the  chief  instruments  in  working  their  deci- 
mation on  the  plains.  In  the  '70's  and  even  in 
the  early  '8o's,  many  tens  of  thousands  of  wolves 
were  killed  by  the  wolfers  in  Montana  and  northern 
Wyoming  and  western  Dakota.  Nowadays,  the 
surviving  wolves  of  the  plains  have  learned  cau- 
tion ;  they  no  longer  move  abroad  at  midday,  and 
still  less  do  they  dream  of  hanging  on  the  foot- 
steps of  hunter  and  traveller.  Instead  of  being 
one  of  the  most  common  they  have  become  one  of 
the  rarest  sights  of  the  plains.  A  hunter  may 
wander  far  and  wide  through  the  plains  for  months 
nowadays  and  never  see  a  wolf,  though  he  will 


Wolves  and  Wolf-Hounds        191 

probably  see  many  coyotes.  However,  the  dimi- 
nution goes  on,  not  steadily  but  by  fits  and  starts, 
and,  moreover,  the  beasts  now  and  then  change 
their  abodes,  and  appear  in  numbers  in  places 
where  they  have  been  scarce  for  a  long  period.  In 
the  present  winter  of  1892-93  big  wolves  are  more 
plentiful  in  the  neighborhood  of  my  ranch  than 
they  have  been  for  ten  years,  and  have  worked 
some  havoc  among  the  cattle  and  young  horses. 
The  cowboys  have  been  carrying  on  the  usual  vin- 
dictive campaign  against  them;  a  number  have 
been  poisoned,  and  a  number  of  others  have  fallen 
victims  to  their  greediness,  the  cowboys  surprising 
them  when  gorged  to  repletion  on  the  carcass  of  a 
colt  or  calf,  and,  in  consequence,  unable  to  run,  so 
that  they  are  easily  ridden  down,  roped,  and  then 
dragged  to  death. 

Yet  even  the  slaughter  wrought  by  man  in  cer- 
tain localities  does  not  seem  adequate  to  explain 
the  scarcity  or  extinction  of  wolves  throughout 
the  country  at  large.  In  most  places  they  are  not 
followed  any  more  eagerly  than  are  the  other 
large  beasts  of  prey,  and  they  are  usually  followed 
with  less  success.  Of  all  animals,  the  wolf  is  the 
shyest  and  hardest  to  slay.  It  is  almost  or  quite 
as  difficult  to  still-hunt  as  the  cougar,  and  is  far 
more  difficult  to  kill  with  hounds,  traps,  or  poison ; 
yet  it  scarcely  holds  its  own  as  well  as  the  great 
cat,  and  it  does  not  begin  to  hold  its  own  as  well 


192  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

as  the  bear,  a  beast  certainly  more  readily  killed, 
and  one  which  produces  fewer  young  at  a  birth. 
Throughout  the  east  the  black  bear  is  common  in 
many  localities  from  which  the  wolf  has  vanished 
completely.  It  at  present  exists  in  very  scanty 
numbers  in  northern  Maine  and  the  Adirondacks ; 
is  almost  or  quite  extinct  in  Pennsylvania ;  lingers 
here  and  there  in  the  mountains  from  West  Vir- 
ginia to  east  Tennessee,  and  is  found  in  Florida; 
but  is  everywhere  less  abundant  than  the  bear.  It 
is  possible  that  this  destruction  of  the  wolves  is 
due  to  some  disease  among  them,  perhaps  to  hy- 
drophobia, a  terrible  malady  from  which  it  is 
known  that  they  suffer  greatly  at  times.  Perhaps 
the  bear  is  helped  by  its  habit  of  hibernating, 
which  frees  it  from  most  dangers  during  winter; 
but  this  cannot  be  the  complete  explanation,  for 
in  the  South  it  does  not  hibernate,  and  yet  holds 
its  own  as  well  as  in  the  North.  What  makes  it  all 
the  more  curious  that  the  American  wolf  should 
disappear  sooner  than  the  bear,  is  that  the  reverse 
is  the  case  with  the  allied  species  of  Europe,  where 
the  bear  is  much  sooner  killed  out  of  the  land. 

Indeed,  the  differences  of  this  sort  between 
nearly  related  animals  are  literally  inexplicable. 
Much  of  the  difference  in  temperament  between 
such  closely  allied  species  as  the  American  and 
European  bears  and  wolves  is  doubtless  due  to 
their  surroundings  and  to  the  instincts  they  have 


Wolves  and  Wolf-Hounds        193 

inherited  through  many  generations ;  but  for  much 
of  the  variation  it  is  not  possible  to  offer  any  ex- 
planation. In  the  same  way,  there  are  certain  phys- 
ical differences  for  which  it  is  very  hard  to  account, 
as  the  same  conditions  seem  to  operate  in  directly 
reverse  ways  with  different  animals.  No  one  can 
explain  the  process  of  natural  selection  which  has 
resulted  in  the  otter  of  America  being  larger  than 
the  otter  of  Europe,  while  the  badger  is  smaller; 
in  the  mink  being  with  us  a  much  stouter  animal 
than  its  Scandinavian  and  Russian  kinsman, 
while  the  reverse  is  true  of  our  sable  or  pine  mar- 
ten. No  one  can  say  why  the  European  red  deer 
should  be  a  pigmy  compared  to  its  giant  brother, 
the  American  wapiti;  why  the  Old  World  elk 
should  average  smaller  in  size  than  the  almost  in- 
distinguishable New  World  moose;  and  yet  the 
bison  of  Lithuania  and  the  Caucasus  be  on  the 
whole  larger  and  more  formidable  than  its  Amer- 
ican cousin.  In  the  same  way,  no  one  can  tell  why 
under  like  conditions  some  game,  such  as  the  white- 
goat  and  the  spruce  grouse,  should  be  tamer  than 
other  closely  allied  species,  like  the  mountain 
sheep  and  ruffed  grouse.  No  one  can  say  why,  on 
the  whole,  the  wolf  of  Scandinavia  and  northern 
Russia  should  be  larger  and  more  dangerous  than 
the  average  wolf  of  the  Rocky  Mountains,  while 
between  the  bears  of  the  same  regions  the  com- 
parison must  be  exactly  reversed. 

VOL.  II.— 13. 


194  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

The  difference  even  among  the  wolves  of  differ- 
ent sections  of  our  own  country  is  very  notable. 
It  may  be  true  that  the  species  as  a  whole  is 
rather  weaker  and  less  ferocious  than  the  Euro- 
pean wolf;  but  it  is  certainly  not  true  of  the 
wolves  of  certain  localities.  The  great  timber 
wolf  of  the  central  and  northern  chains  of  the 
Rockies  and  coast  ranges  is  in  every  way  a  more 
formidable  creature  than  the  buffalo-wolf  of  the 
plains,  although  they  intergrade.  The  skins  and 
skulls  of  the  wolves  of  northwestern  Montana  and 
Washington  which  I  have  seen  were  quite  as  large 
and  showed  quite  as  stout  claws  and  teeth  as  the 
skins  and  skulls  of  Russian  and  Scandinavian 
wolves,  and  I  believe  that  these  great  timber 
wolves  are  in  every  way  as  formidable  as  their 
Old  World  kinsfolk.  However,  they  live  where 
they  come  in  contact  with  a  population  of  rifle- 
bearing  frontier  hunters,  who  are  very  different 
from  European  peasants  or  Asiatic  tribesmen; 
and  they  have,  even  when  most  hungry,  a  whole- 
some dread  of  human  beings.  Yet  I  doubt  if  an 
unarmed  man  would  be  entirely  safe  should  he, 
while  alone  in  the  forest  in  midwinter,  encounter 
a  fair-sized  pack  of  ravenously  hungry  timber 
wolves. 

A  full-grown  dog-wolf  of  the  northern  Rockies, 
in  exceptional  instances,  reaches  a  height  of  thirty- 
two  inches  and  a  weight  of  130  pounds;    a  big 


Wolves  and  Wolf-Hounds        195 

btiffalo-wolf  of  the  Upper  Missouri  stands  thirty  or 
thirty-one  inches  at  the  shoulder  and  weighs  about 
no  pounds.  A  Texan  wolf  may  not  reach  over 
eighty  pounds.  The  bitch- wolves  are  smaller; 
and  moreover  there  is  often  great  variation  even 
in  the  wolves  of  closely  neighboring  localities. 

The  wolves  of  the  southern  plains  were  not  often 
formidable  to  large  animals,  even  in  the  days  when 
they  most  abounded.  They  rarely  attacked  the 
horses  of  the  hunter,  and  indeed  were  but  little  re- 
garded by  these  experienced  animals.  They  were 
much  more  likely  to  gnaw  off  the  lariat  with  which 
the  horse  was  tied,  than  to  try  to  molest  the  steed 
himself.  They  preferred  to  prey  on  young  animals 
or  on  the  weak  and  disabled.  They  rarely  mo- 
lested a  full-grown  cow  or  steer,  still  less  a  full- 
grown  buffalo,  and,  if  they  did  attack  such  an 
animal,  it  was  only  when  emboldened  by  numbers. 
In  the  plains  of  the  Upper  Missouri  and  Saskatch- 
ewan the  wolf  was,  and  is,  more  dangerous,  while 
in  the  northern  Rockies  his  courage  and  ferocity 
attain  their  highest  pitch.  Near  my  own  ranch 
the  wolves  have  sometimes  committed  great  de- 
predations on  cattle,  but  they  seem  to  have  queer 
freaks  of  slaughter.  Usually  they  prey  only  upon 
calves  and  sickly  animals ;  but  in  midwinter  I  have 
known  one  single-handed  to  attack  and  kill  a  well- 
grown  steer  or  cow,  disabling  its  quarry  by  rapid 
snaps  at  the  hams  or  flanks.      Only  rarely  have  I 


196  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

known  it  to  seize  by  the  throat.  Colts  are  likewise 
a  favorite  prey,  but  with  us  wolves  rarely  attack 
full-grown  horses.  They  are  sometimes  very  bold 
in  their  assaults,  falling  on  the  stock  while  imme- 
diately around  the  ranch-houses.  They  even  ven- 
ture into  the  hamlet  of  Medora  itself  at  night — as 
the  coyotes  sometimes  do  by  day.  In  the  spring 
of  '92  we  put  on  some  eastern  two-year-old  steers; 
they  arrived,  and  were  turned  loose  from  the 
stock-yards  in  a  snow-storm,  though  it  was  in 
early  May.  Next  morning  we  found  that  one  had 
been  seized,  slain,  and  partially  devoured  by  a  big 
wolf  at  the  very  gate  of  the  stock-yard ;  probably 
the  beast  had  seen  it  standing  near  the  yard  after 
nightfall,  feeling  miserable  after  its  journey,  in 
the  storm  and  its  unaccustomed  surroundings, 
and  had  been  emboldened  to  make  the  assault  so 
near  town  by  the  evident  helplessness  of  the  prey. 
The  big  timber  wolves  of  the  northern  Rocky 
Mountains  attack  every  four-footed  beast  to  be 
found  where  they  live.  They  are  far  from  con- 
tenting themselves  with  hunting  deer  and  snap- 
ping up  the  pigs  and  sheep  of  the  farm.  When  the 
weather  gets  cold  and  food  scarce  they  band  to- 
gether in  small  parties,  perhaps  of  four  or  five  in- 
dividuals, and  then  assail  anything,  even  a  bear  or 
a  panther.  A  bull  elk  or  bull  moose,  when  on  its 
guard,  makes  a  most  dangerous  fight ;  but  a  single 
wolf  will  frequently  master  the  cow  of  either  ani- 


Wolves  and  Wolf-Hounds        197 

mal,  as  well  as  domestic  cattle  and  horses.  In  at- 
tacking such  large  game,  however,  the  wolves  like 
to  act  in  concert,  one  springing  at  the  animal's 
head,  and  attracting  its  attention,  while  the  other 
hamstrings  it.  Nevertheless,  one  such  big  wolf 
will  kill  an  ordinary  horse.  A  man  I  knew,  who 
was  engaged  in  packing  into  the  Coeur  d'Alenes, 
once  witnessed  such  a  feat  on  the  part  of  a  wolf. 
He  was  taking  his  pack-train  down  into  a  valley 
when  he  saw  a  horse  grazing  therein ;  it  had  been 
turned  loose  by  another  packing  outfit,  because  it 
became  exhausted.  He  lost  sight  of  it  as  the  trail 
went  down  a  zigzag,  and  while  it  was  thus  out  of 
sight  he  suddenly  heard  it  utter  the  appalling 
scream,  unlike  and  more  dreadful  than  any  other 
sound,  which  a  horse  only  utters  in  extreme  fright 
or  agony.  The  scream  w^as  repeated,  and  as  he 
came  in  sight  again  he  saw  that  a  great  wolf  had 
attacked  the  horse.  The  poor  animal  had  been 
bitten  terribly  in  its  haunches  and  was  cowering 
upon  them,  while  the  wolf  stood  and  looked  at  it 
a  few  paces  off.  In  a  moment  or  two  the  horse 
partially  recovered  and  made  a  desperate  bound 
forward,  starting  at  full  gallop.  Immediately  the 
wolf  was  after  it,  overhauled  it  in  three  or  four 
jumps,  and  then  seized  it  by  the  hock,  while  its 
legs  were  extended,  with  such  violence  as  to  bring 
it  completely  back  on  its  haunches.  It  again 
screamed  piteously;    and  this  time  with  a  few 


19^         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

savage  snaps  the  wolf  hamstrung  and  partially 
disembowelled  it,  and  it  fell  over,  having  made  no 
attempt  to  defend  itself.  I  have  heard  of  more 
than  one  incident  of  this  kind.  If  a  horse  is  a 
good  fighter,  however,  as  occasionally,  though  not 
often  happens,  it  is  a  most  difficult  prey  for  any 
wild  beast,  and  some  veteran  horses  have  no  fear 
of  wolves  whatsoever,  well  knowing  that  they  can 
either  strike  them  down  with  their  fore  feet  or 
repulse  them  by  lashing  out  behind. 

Wolves  are  cunning  beasts  and  will  often  try  to 
lull  their  prey  into  unsuspicion  by  playing  round 
and  cutting  capers.  I  once  saw  a  young  deer  and 
a  wolf-cub  together  near  the  hut  of  the  settler  who 
had  captured  both.  The  wolf  was  just  old  enough 
to  begin  to  feel  vicious  and  bloodthirsty,  and  to 
show  symptoms  of  attacking  the  deer.  On  the 
occasion  in  question  he  got  loose  and  ran  towards 
it,  but  it  turned,  and  began  to  hit  him  with  its 
fore  feet,  seemingly  in  sport;  whereat  he  rolled 
over  on  his  back  before  it,  and  acted  like  a  puppy 
at  play.  Soon  it  turned  and  walked  off;  imme- 
diately the  wolf,  with  bristling  hair,  crawled  after, 
and  with  a  pounce  seized  it  by  the  haunch,  and 
would  doubtless  have  murdered  the  bleating, 
struggling  creature,  had  not  the  bystanders  inter- 
fered. 

Where  there  are  no  domestic  animals,  wolves 
feed  on  almost  anything,  from  a  mouse  to  an  elk. 


Wolves  and  Wolf-Hounds        199 

They  are  redoubted  enemies  of  foxes.  They  are 
easily  able  to  overtake  them  in  fair  chase,  and  kill 
numbers.  If  the  fox  can  get  into  the  underbrush, 
however,  he  can  dodge  around  much  faster  than 
the  wolf,  and  so  escape  pursuit.  Sometimes  one 
wolf  will  try  to  put  a  fox  out  of  a  cover  while  an- 
other waits  outside  to  snap  him  up.  Moreover, 
the  wolf  kills  even  closer  kinsfolk  than  the  fox. 
When  pressed  by  hunger  it  will  undoubtedly 
sometimes  seize  a  coyote,  tear  it  in  pieces,  and  de- 
vour it,  although  during  most  of  the  year  the  two 
animals  live  in  perfect  harmony.  I  once  myself, 
while  out  in  the  deep  snow,  came  across  the  re- 
mains of  a  coyote  that  had  been  killed  in  this  man- 
ner. Wolves  are  also  very  fond  of  the  flesh  of 
dogs,  and  if  they  get  a  chance  promptly  kill  and 
eat  any  dog  they  can  master — and  there  are  but 
few  that  they  cannot.  Nevertheless,  I  have  been 
told  of  one  instance  in  which  a  wolf  struck  up 
an  extraordinary  friendship  with  a  strayed  dog, 
and  the  two  lived  and  hunted  together  for  many 
months,  being  frequently  seen  by  the  settlers  of 
the  locality.  This  occurred  near  Thompson's  Falls, 
Montana. 

Usually  wolves  are  found  singly,  in  pairs,  or  in 
family  parties,  each  having  a  large  beat  over 
which  it  regularly  hunts,  and  also  at  times  shift- 
ing its  grounds  and  travelling  immense  dis- 
tances in  order  to  take  up  a  temporary  abode  in 


200         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

some  new  locality — for  they  are  great  wandeiers. 
It  is  only  under  stress  of  severe  weather  that 
they  band  together  in  packs.  They  prefer  to 
creep  on  their  prey  and  seize  it  by  a  sudden 
pounce,  but,  unlike  the  cougar,  they  also  run 
it  down  in  fair  chase.  Their  slouching,  tireless 
gallop  enables  them  often  to  overtake  deer,  ante- 
lope, or  other  quarry ;  though  under  favorable  cir- 
cumstances, especially  if  near  a  lake,  the  latter 
frequently  escape.  Whether  wolves  run  cunning 
I  do  not  know ;  but  I  think  they  must,  for  coyotes 
certainly  do.  A  coyote  cannot  run  down  a  jack- 
rabbit;  but  two  or  three  working  together  will 
often  catch  one.  Once  I  saw  three  start  a  jack, 
which  ran  right  away  from  them ;  but  they  spread 
out,  and  followed.  Pretty  soon  the  jack  turned 
slightly,  and  ran  near  one  of  the  outside  ones,  saw 
it,  became  much  frightened,  and  turned  at  right 
angles,  so  as  soon  to  nearly  run  into  the  other  out- 
side one,  which  had  kept  straight  on.  This  hap- 
pened several  times,  and  then  the  confused  jack 
lay  down  under  a  sage  bush  and  was  seized.  So 
I  have  seen  two  coyotes  attempting  to  get  at  a 
newly  dropped  antelope  kid.  One  would  make  a 
feint  of  attack,  and  lure  the  dam  into  a  rush  at 
him,  while  the  other  stole  round  to  get  at  the  kid. 
The  dam,  as  always  with  these  spirited  little  prong- 
bucks,  made  a  good  fight,  and  kept  the  assailants 
at  bay ;  yet  I  think  they  would  have  succeeded  in 


Wolves  and  Wolf-Hounds       201 

the  end,  had  I  not  interfered.  Coyotes  are  bold 
and  cunning  in  raiding  the  settlers'  barn-yards  for 
lambs  and  hens ;  and  they  have  an  especial  liking 
for  tame  cats.  If  there  are  coyotes  in  the  neigh- 
borhood a  cat  which  gets  into  the  habit  of  wan- 
dering from  home  is  surely  lost. 

Though  I  have  never  known  wolves  to  attack  a 
man,  yet  in  the  wilder  portion  of  the  far  North- 
west I  have  heard  them  come  around  camp  very 
close,  growling  so  savagely  as  to  make  one  almost 
reluctant  to  leave  the  camp-fire  and  go  out  into 
the  darkness  unarmed.  Once  I  was  camped  in  the 
fall  near  a  lonely  little  lake  in  the  mountains,  by 
the  edge  of  quite  a  broad  stream.  Soon  after 
nightfall  three  or  four  wolves  came  around  camp 
and  kept  me  awake  by  their  sinister  and  dismal 
howling.  Two  or  three  times  they  came  so  close 
to  the  fire  that  I  could  hear  them  snap  their  jaws 
and  growl,  and  at  one  time  I  positively  thought 
that  they  intended  to  try  to  get  into  camp,  so  ex- 
cited were  they  by  the  smell  of  the  fresh  meat. 
After  a  while  they  stopped  howling;  and  then  all 
was  silent  for  an  hour  or  so.  I  let  the  fire  go  out 
and  was  turning  into  bed  when  I  suddenly  heard 
some  animal  of  considerable  size  come  down  to  the 
stream  nearly  opposite  me  and  begin  to  splash 
across,  first  wading,  then  swimming.  It  was  pitch 
dark  and  I  could  not  possibly  see,  but  I  felt  sure 
it  was  a  wolf.      However,  after  coming  half-way 


202         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

over,  it  changed  its  mind  and  swam  back  to  the 
opposite  bank;  nor  did  I  see  or  hear  anything 
more  of  the  night  marauders. 

Five  or  six  times  on  the  plains  or  on  my  ranch  I 
have  had  shots  at  wolves,  always  obtained  by  acci- 
dent, and  always,  I  regret  to  say,  missed.  Often  the 
wolf  when  seen  was  running  at  full  speed  for  cover, 
or  else  was  so  far  off  that  though  motionless  my 
shots  went  wide  of  it.  But  once  have  I  with  my 
own  rifle  killed  a  wolf,  and  this  was  while  travel- 
ling with  a  pack-train  in  the  mountains.  We 
had  been  making  considerable  noise,  and  L never 
understood  how  an  animal  so  wary  permitted  our 
near  approach.  He  did,  nevertheless,  and  just  as 
we  came  to  a  little  stream  which  we  were  to  ford 
I  saw  him  get  on  a  dead  log  some  thirty  yards  dis- 
tant and  walk  slowly  off  with  his  eyes  turned 
toward  us.  The  first  shot  smashed  his  shoulders 
and  brought  him  down. 

The  wolf  is  one  of  the  animals  which  can  only 
be  hunted  successfully  with  dogs.  Most  dogs, 
however,  do  not  take  at  all  kindly  to  the  pursuit. 
A  wolf  is  a  terrible  fighter.  He  will  decimate  a 
pack  of  hounds  by  rabid  snaps  with  his  giant  jaws 
while  suffering  little  damage  himself ;  nor  are  the 
ordinary  big  dogs,  supposed  to  be  fighting  dogs, 
able  to  tackle  him  without  special  training.  I 
have  known  one  wolf  to  kill  a  bulldog  which  had 
rushed  at  it  with  a  single  snap,  while  another 


Wolves  and  Wolf-Hounds        203 

which  had  entered  the  yard  of  a  Montana  ranch- 
house  slew  in  quick  succession  both  of  the  large 
mastiffs  by  which  it  was  assailed.  The  immense 
agility  and  ferocity  of  the  wild  beast,  the  terrible 
snap  of  his  long-toothed  jaws,  and  the  admi- 
rable training  in  which  he  always  is,  give  him  a 
great  advantage  over  fat,  small-toothed,  smooth- 
skinned  dogs,  even  though  they  are  nominally 
supposed  to  belong  to  the  fighting  classes.  In  the 
way  that  bench  competitions  are  arranged  now- 
adays this  is  but  natural,  as  there  is  no  temptation 
to  produce  a  worthy  class  of  fighting  dog  when 
the  rewards  are  given  upon  technical  points  wholly 
unconnected  with  the  dog's  usefulness.  A  prize- 
winning  mastiff  or  bulldog  may  be  almost  useless 
for  the  only  purposes  for  which  his  kind  is  ever 
useful  at  all.  A  mastiff,  if  properly  trained  and 
of  sufficient  size,  might  possibly  be  able  to  meet  a 
young  or  undersized  Texan  wolf ;  but  I  have  never 
seen  a  dog  of  this  variety  which  I  would  esteem  a 
match  singlehanded  for  one  of  the  huge  timber 
wolves  of  western  Montana.  Even  if  the  dog  was 
the  heavier  of  the  two,  his  teeth  and  claws  would 
be  very  much  smaller  and  weaker  and  his  hide  less 
tough.  Indeed,  I  have  known  of  but  one  dog 
which,  single-handed,  encountered  and  slew  a  wolf; 
this  was  the  large  vicious  mongrel  whose  feats  are 
recorded  in  my  Hunting  Trips  of  a  Ranchman. 
General   Marcy   of  the   United    States   Army 


204         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

informed  me  that  he  once  chased  a  huge  wolf  which 
had  gotten  away  with  a  small  trap  on  its  foot.  It 
was,  I  believe,  in  Wisconsin,  and  he  had  twenty  or 
thirty  hounds  with  him,  but  they  were  entirely 
untrained  to  wolf -hunting,  and  proved  unable  to 
stop  the  crippled  beast.  Few  of  them  would  at- 
tack it  at  all,  and  those  that  did  went  at  it  singly 
and  with  a  certain  hesitation,  and  so  each  in  turn 
was  disabled  by  a  single  terrible  snap,  and  left 
bleeding  on  the  snow.  General  Wade  Hampton 
tells  me  that  in  the  course  of  his  fifty  years'  hunt- 
ing with  horse  and  hound  in  Mississippi,  he  has  on 
several  occasions  tried  his  pack  of  foxhounds 
(southern  deerhounds)  after  a  wolf.  He  found 
that  it  was  with  the  greatest  difficulty,  however, 
that  he  could  persuade  them  to  so  much  as  follow 
the  trail.  Usually,  as  soon  as  they  came  across  it, 
they  would  growl,  bristle  up,  and  then  retreat 
with  their  tails  between  their  legs.  But  one  of  his 
dogs  ever  really  tried  to  master  a  wolf  by  itself, 
and  this  one  paid  for  its  temerity  with  its  life ;  for 
while  running  a  wolf  in  a  canebrake  the  beast 
turned  and  tore  it  to  pieces.  Finally,  General 
Hampton  succeeded  in  getting  a  number  of  his 
hounds  so  they  would  at  any  rate  follow  the  trail 
in  full  cry,  and  thus  drive  the  wolf  out  of  the 
thicket,  and  give  a  chance  to  the  hunter  to  get  a 
shot.     In  this  way  he  killed  two  or  three. 

The  true  way  to  kill  wolves,  however,  is  to 


Wolves  and  Wolf-Hounds        205 

hunt  them  with  greyhounds  on  the  great  plains. 
Nothing  more  exciting  than  this  sport  can  possibly 
be  imagined.  It  is  not  always  necessary  that  the 
greyhounds  should  be  of  absolutely  pure  blood. 
Prize-winning  dogs  of  high  pedigree  often  prove 
useless  for  the  purposes.  If  by  careful  choice,  how- 
ever, a  ranchman  can  get  together  a  pack  com- 
posed both  of  the  smooth-haired  greyhound  and  the 
rough-haired  Scotch  deerhound,  he  can  have  ex- 
cellent sport.  The  greyhounds  sometimes  do  best 
if  they  have  a  slight  cross  of  bulldog  in  their  veins ; 
but  this  is  not  necessary.  If  once  a  greyhound 
can  be  fairly  entered  to  the  sport  and  acquires  con- 
fidence, then  its  wonderful  agility,  its  sinewy 
strength  and  speed,  and  the  terrible  snap  with 
which  its  jaws  come  together,  render  it  a  most 
formidable  assailant.  Nothing  can  possibly  exceed 
the  gallantry  with  which  good  greyhounds,  when 
their  blood  is  up,  fling  themselves  on  a  wolf  or  any 
other  foe.  There  does  not  exist,  and  there  never 
has  existed  on  the  wide  earth,  a  more  perfect  type 
of  dauntless  courage  than  such  a  hound.  Not 
Gushing  when  he  steered  his  little  launch  through 
the  black  night  against  the  great  ram  Albemarle, 
not  Custer  dashing  into  the  valley  of  the  Rosebud 
to  die  with  all  his  men,  not  Farragut  himself  lashed 
in  the  rigging  of  the  Hartford  as  she  forged  past  the 
forts  to  encounter  her  iron-clad  foe,  can  stand  as 
a  more  perfect  type  of  dauntless  valor. 


2o6  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

Once  I  had  the  good  fortune  to  witness  a  very 
exciting  hunt  of  this  character  among  the  foot- 
hills of  the  northern  Rockies.     I  was  staying  at 
the  house  of  a  friendly  cowman,  whom  I  will  call 
Judge  Yancy  Stump.     Judge  Yancy  Stump  was  a 
Democrat  who,  as  he  phrased  it,  had  fought  for 
his  Democracy;  that  is,  he  had  been  in  the  Con- 
federate Army.     He  was  at  daggers  drawn  with 
his  nearest  neighbor,   a  cross-grained  mountain 
farmer,  who  may  be  known  as  old  man  Prindle. 
Old  man  Prindle  had  been  in  the  Union  Army,  and 
his  Republicanism  was  of  the  blackest  and  most 
uncompromising  type.    There  was  one  point,  how- 
ever, on  which  the  two  came  together.    They  were 
exceedingly  fond  of  hunting  with  hounds.      The 
Judge  had  three  or  four  track-hounds,  and  four  of 
what  he  called  swift-hounds,  the  latter  including 
one  pure-bred  greyhound  bitch  of  wonderful  speed 
and  temper,  a  dun-colored  yelping  animal  which 
was  a  cross  between  a  greyhound  and  a  foxhound, 
and  two  others  that  were  crosses  between  a  grey- 
hound and  a  wire-haired  Scotch  deer-hound.    Old 
man  Prindle 's  contribution  to  the  pack  consisted 
of  two  immense  brindled  mongrels  of  great  strength 
and  ferocious  temper.     They  were  unlike  any  dogs 
I  have  ever  seen  in  this  country.      Their  mother 
herself  was  a  cross  between  a  bull  mastiff  and  a 
Newfoundland,  while  the  father  was  described  as 
being  a  big  dog  that  belonged  to  a  "  Dutch  Count." 


Wolves  and  Wolf-Hounds       207 

The  *'  Dutch  Count "  was  an  outcast  German  noble, 
who  had  drifted  to  the  West,  and,  after  failing  in 
the  mines  and  failing  in  the  cattle  country,  had 
died  in  a  squalid  log  shanty  while  striving  to  eke 
out  an  existence  as  a  hunter  among  the  foothills. 
His  dog,  I  presume,  from  the  description  given  me, 
must  have  been  a  boar-hound  or  Ulm  dog. 

As  I  was  very  anxious  to  see  a  wolf -hunt,  the 
Judge  volunteered  to  get  one  up,  and  asked  old 
man  Prindle  to  assist,  for  the  sake  of  his  two  big 
fighting  dogs ;  though  the  very  names  of  the  latter. 
General  Grant  and  Old  Abe,  were  gall  and  worm- 
wood to  the  unreconstructed  soul  of  the  Judge. 
Still  they  were  the  only  dogs  anywhere  around 
capable  of  tackling  a  savage  timber  wolf,  and 
without  their  aid  the  Judge's  own  high-spirited 
animals  ran  a  serious  risk  of  injury,  for  they  were 
altogether  too  game  to  let  any  beast  escape  with- 
out a  struggle. 

Luck  favored  us.  Two  wolves  had  killed  a  calf 
and  dragged  it  into  a  long  patch  of  dense  brush 
where  there  was  a  little  spring,  the  whole  furnish- 
ing admirable  cover  for  any  wild  beast.  Early  in 
the  morning  we  started  on  horseback  for  this  bit  of 
cover,  which  was  some  three  miles  off.  The  party 
consisted  of  the  Judge,  old  man  Prindle,  a  cowboy, 
myself,  and  the  dogs.  The  Judge  and  I  carried 
our  rifles  and  the  cowboy  his  revolver,  but  old 
man  Prindle  had  nothing  but  a  heavy  whip,  for  he 


2o8  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

swore,  with  many  oaths,  that  no  one  should  inter- 
fere with  his  big  dogs,  for  by  themselves  they 
would  surely  ''make  the  wolf  feel  sicker  than  a 
stuck  hog."  Our  shaggy  ponies  racked  along  at  a 
five-mile  gait  over  the  dewy  prairie  grass.  The 
two  big  dogs  trotted  behind  their  master,  grim  and 
ferocious.  The  track-hounds  were  tied  in  couples, 
and  the  beautiful  greyhounds  loped  lightly  and 
gracefully  alongside  the  horses.  The  country  was 
fine.  A  mile  to  our  right  a  small  plains  river 
wound  in  long  curves  between  banks  fringed  with 
cottonwoods.  Two  or  three  miles  to  our  left  the 
foothills  rose  sheer  and  bare,  with  clumps  of  black 
pine  and  cedar  in  their  gorges.  We  rode  over 
gently  rolling  prairie,  with  here  and  there  patches 
of  brush  at  the  bottoms  of  the  slopes  around  the 
dry  watercourses. 

At  last  we  reached  a  somewhat  deeper  valley, 
in  which  the  wolves  were  harbored.  Wolves  lie 
close  in  the  daytime  and  will  not  leave  cover  if 
they  can  help  it ;  and  as  they  had  both  food  and 
water  within  we  knew  it  was  most  unlikely  that 
this  couple  would  be  gone.  The  valley  was  a 
couple  of  hundred  yards  broad  and  three  or  four 
times  as  long,  filled  with  a  growth  of  ash  and 
dwarf  elm  and  cedar,  thorny  underbrush  choking 
the  spaces  between.  Posting  the  cowboy,  to 
whom  he  gave  his  rifle,  with  two  greyhounds  on 
one  side  of  the  upper  end,  and  old  man  Prindle 


Wolves  and  Wolf-Hounds        209 

with  two  others  on  the  opposite  side,  while  I  was 
left  at  the  lower  end  to  guard  against  the  possibil- 
ity of  the  wolves  breaking  back,  the  Judge  himself 
rode  into  the  thicket  near  me  and  loosened  the 
track-hounds  to  let  them  find  the  wolves'  trail. 
The  big  dogs  also  were  uncoupled  and  allowed  to 
go  in  with  the  hounds.  Their  power  of  scent  was 
very  poor,  but  they  were  sure  to  be  guided  aright 
by  the  baying  of  the  hounds,  and  their  presence 
would  give  confidence  to  the  latter  and  make 
them  ready  to  rout  the  wolves  out  of  the  thicket, 
which  they  would  probably  have  shrunk  from 
doing  alone.  There  was  a  moment's  pause  of  ex- 
pectation after  the  Judge  entered  the  thicket  with 
his  hounds.  We  sat  motionless  on  our  horses, 
eagerly  looking  through  the  keen  fresh  morning 
air.  Then  a  clamorous  baying  from  the  thicket 
in  which  both  the  horseman  and  dogs  had  disap- 
peared showed  that  the  hounds  had  struck  the 
trail  of  their  quarry  and  were  running  on  a  hot 
scent.  For  a  couple  of  minutes  we  could  not 
be  quite  certain  which  way  the  game  was  going 
to  break.  The  hounds  ran  zigzag  through  the 
brush,  as  we  could  tell  by  their  baying,  and  once 
some  yelping  and  a  great  row  showed  that  they 
had  come  rather  closer  than  they  had  expected 
upon  at  least  one  of  the  wolves. 

In  another  minute,  however,  the  latter  found  it 
too  hot  for  them  and  bolted  from  the  thicket.    My 

VOL.  II. — 14. 


2IO  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

first  notice  of  this  was  seeing  the  cowboy,  who  was 
standing  by  the  side  of  his  horse,  suddenly  throw 
up  his  rifle  and  fire,  while  the  greyhounds,  who 
had  been  springing  high  in  the  air,  half -maddened 
by  the  clamor  in  the  thicket  below,  for  a  moment 
dashed  off  the  wrong  way,  confused  by  the  report 
of  the  gun.  I  rode  for  all  I  was  worth  to  where 
the  cowboy  stood,  and  instantly  caught  a  glimpse 
of  two  wolves,  grizzled-gray  and  brown,  which, 
having  been  turned  by  his  shot,  had  started  straight 
over  the  hill  across  the  plain  toward  the  moun- 
tains three  miles  away.  As  soon  as  I  saw  them  I 
saw  also  that  the  rearmost  of  the  couple  had  been 
hit  somewhere  in  the  body  and  was  lagging  be- 
hind, the  blood  running  from  its  flanks,  while  the 
two  greyhounds  were  racing  after  it;  and  at  the 
same  moment  the  track-hounds  and  the  big  dogs 
burst  out  of  the  thicket,  yelling  savagely  as  they 
struck  the  bloody  trail.  The  wolf  was  hard  hit, 
and  staggered  as  he  ran.  He  did  not  have  a  hun- 
dred yards'  start  of  the  dogs,  and  in  less  than  a 
minute  one  of  the  greyhounds  ranged  up  and 
passed  him  with  a  savage  snap  that  brought  him 
to;  and  before  he  could  recover  the  whole  pack 
rushed  at  him.  Weakened  as  he  was  he  could 
make  no  effective  fight  against  so  many  foes,  and 
indeed  had  a  chance  for  but  one  or  two  rapid  snaps 
before  he  was  thrown  down  and  completely  cov- 
ered by  the  bodies  of  his  enemies.     Yet  with  one 


Wolves  and  Wolf-Hounds        211 

of  these  snaps  he  did  damage,  as  a  shrill  yell  told, 
and  in  a  second  an  over-rash  track-hound  came 
out  of  the  struggle  with  a  deep  gash  across  his 
shoulders.  The  worrying,  growling,  and  snarling 
were  terrific,  but  in  a  minute  the  heaving  mass 
grew  motionless  and  the  dogs  drew  off,  save  one  or 
two  that  still  continued  to  worry  the  dead  wolf  as 
it  lay  stark  and  stiff  with  glazed  eyes  and  rumpled 
fur. 

No  sooner  were  we  satisfied  that  it  was  dead 
than  the  Judge,  with  cheers  and  oaths,  and  crack- 
ings of  his  whip,  urged  the  dogs  after  the  other 
wolf.  The  two  greyhounds  that  had  been  with 
old  man  Prindle  had  fortunately  not  been  able  to 
see  the  wolves  when  they  first  broke  from  the 
cover,  and  never  saw  the  wounded  wolf  at  all, 
starting  off  at  full  speed  after  the  un wounded  one 
the  instant  he  topped  the  crest  of  the  hill.  He  had 
taken  advantage  of  a  slight  hollow  and  turned,  and 
now  the  chase  was  crossing  us  half  a  mile  away. 
With  whip  and  spur  we  flew  towards  them,  our 
two  greyhounds  stretching  out  in  front,  and 
leaving  us  as  if  we  were  standing  still,  the  track- 
hounds  and  big  dogs  running  after  them  just 
ahead  of  the  horses.  Fortunately,  the  wolf 
plunged  for  a  moment  into  a  little  brushy  hollow 
and  again  doubled  back,  and  this  gave  us  a  chance 
to  see  the  end  of  the  chase  from  nearby.  The  two 
greyhounds  which  had  first  taken  up  the  pursuit 


212         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

were  then  but  a  short  distance  behind.  Nearer 
they  crept  until  they  were  within  ten  yards,  and 
then  with  a  tremendous  race  the  Httle  bitch  ran 
past  him  and  inflicted  a  vicious  bite  in  the  big 
beast's  ham.  He  whirled  around  like  a  top  and 
his  jaws  clashed  like  those  of  a  sprung  bear-trap, 
but  quick  though  he  was  she  was  quicker  and  just 
cleared  his  savage  rush.  In  another  moment  he 
resumed  his  flight  at  full  speed,  a  speed  which 
only  that  of  the  greyhounds  exceeded ;  but  almost 
immediately  the  second  greyhound  ranged  along- 
side, and  though  he  was  not  able  to  bite,  because 
the  wolf  kept  running  with  its  head  turned  around 
threatening  him,  yet  by  his  feints  he  delayed  the 
beast's  flight  so  that  in  a  moment  or  two  the  re- 
maining couple  of  swift  hounds  arrived  on  the 
scene.  For  a  moment  the  wolf  and  all  four  dogs 
galloped  along  in  a  bunch ;  then  one  of  the  grey- 
hounds, watching  his  chance,  pinned  the  beast 
cleverly  by  the  hock  and  threw  him  completely 
over.  The  others  jumped  on  it  in  an  instant ;  but 
rising  by  main  strength  the  wolf  shook  himself 
free,  catching  one  dog  by  the  ear  and  tearing  it 
half  off.  Then  he  sat  down  on  his  haunches  and 
the  greyhounds  ranged  themselves  around  him 
some  twenty  yards  off,  forming  a  ring  which  for- 
bade his  retreat,  though  they  themselves  did  not 
dare  touch  him.  However  the  end  was  at  hand. 
In  another  moment  Old  Abe  and  General  Grant 


Wolves  and  Wolf-Hounds       213 

came  running  up  at  headlong  speed  and  smashed 
into  the  wolf  like  a  couple  of  battering-rams.  He 
rose  on  his  hind  legs  like  a  wrestler  as  they  came  at 
him,  the  greyhounds  also  rising  and  bouncing  up 
and  down  like  rubber  balls.  I  could  just  see  the 
wolf  and  the  first  big  dog  locked  together,  as  the 
second  one  made  good  his  throat-hold.  In  an- 
other moment  over  all  three  tumbled,  while  the 
greyhounds  and  one  or  two  of  the  track-hounds 
jumped  in  to  take  part  in  the  killing.  The  big 
dogs  more  than  occupied  the  wolf's  attention  and 
took  all  the  punishing,  while  in  a  trice  one  of  the 
greyhounds,  having  seized  him  by  the  hind  leg, 
stretched  him  out,  and  the  others  were  biting  his 
undefended  belly.  The  snarling  and  yelling  of 
the  worry  made  a  noise  so  fiendish  that  it  was 
fairly  bloodcurdling;  then  it  gradually  died  down, 
and  the  second  wolf  lay  limp  on  the  plain,  killed 
by  the  dogs  unassisted.  This  wolf  was  rather 
heavier  and  decidedly  taller  than  either  of  the 
big  dogs,  with  more  sinewy  feet  and  longer 
fangs. 

I  have  several  times  seen  wolves  run  down  and 
stopped  by  greyhounds  after  a  breakneck  gallop 
and  a  wildly  exciting  finish,  but  this  was  the  only 
occasion  on  which  I  ever  saw  the  dogs  kill  a  big, 
full-grown  he- wolf  unaided.  Nevertheless  various 
friends  of  mine  own  packs  that  have  performed 
the  feat  again  and  again.     One  pack,  formerly 


214         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

kept  at  Fort  Benton,  until  wolves  in  that  neigh- 
borhood became  scarce,  had  nearly  seventy-five 
to  its  credit,  most  of  them  killed  without  any 
assistance  from  the  hunter;  killed,  moreover,  by 
the  greyhounds  alone,  there  being  no  other  dogs 
with  the  pack.  These  greyhounds  were  trained  to 
the  throat-hold,  and  did  their  own  killing  in  fine 
style;  usually  six  or  eight  were  slipped  together. 
General  Miles  informs  me  that  he  once  had  great 
fun  in  the  Indian  Territory  hunting  wolves  with  a 
pack  of  greyhounds.  They  had  with  the  pack  a 
large  stub-tailed  mongrel,  of  doubtful  ancestry 
but  most  undoubted  fighting  capacity.  When  the 
wolf  was  started  the  greyhounds  were  sure  to  over- 
take it  in  a  mile  or  two ;  they  would  then  bring  it 
to  a  halt  and  stand  around  it  in  a  ring  until  the 
fighting  dog  came  up.  The  latter  promptly  tum- 
bled on  the  wolf,  grabbing  him  anywhere,  and 
often  getting  a  terrific  wound  himself  at  the  same 
time.  As  soon  as  he  had  seized  the  wolf  and  was 
rolling  over  with  him  in  the  grapple,  the  other 
dogs  joined  in  the  fray  and  dispatched  the  quarry 
without  much  danger  to  themselves. 

During  the  last  decade  many  ranchmen  in  Colo- 
rado, Wyoming,  and  Montana  have  developed 
packs  of  greyhounds  able  to  kill  a  wolf  unassisted. 
Greyhounds  trained  for  this  purpose  always  seize 
by  the  throat ;  and  the  light  dogs  used  for  coursing 
jack-rabbits  are  not  of  much  service;   smooth  or 


Wolves  and  Wolf-Hounds        215 

rough-haired  greyhounds  and  deerhounds  stand- 
ing over  thirty  inches  at  the  shoulder  and  weigh- 
ing over  ninety  pounds  being  the  only  ones  that, 
together  with  speed,  courage,  and  endurance,  pos- 
sess the  requisite  power. 

One  of  the  most  famous  packs  in  the  West  was 
that  of  the  Sun  River  Hound  Club,  in  Montana, 
started  by  the  stockmen  of  Sun  River  to  get  rid 
of  the  curse  of  wolves  which  infested  the  neigh- 
borhood and  worked  very  serious  damage  to  the 
herds  and  flocks.  The  pack  was  composed  of  both 
greyhounds  and  deerhounds,  the  best  being  from 
the  kennels  of  Colonel  Williams  and  of  Mr.  Van 
Hummel,  of  Denver;  they  were  handled  by  an 
old  plainsman  and  veteran  wolf-hunter  named 
Porter.  In  the  season  of  '86  the  astonishing  num- 
be  of  146  wolves  were  killed  with  these  dogs.  Or- 
dinarily, as  soon  as  the  dogs  seized  a  wolf,  and 
threw  or  held  it.  Porter  rushed  in  and  stabbed  it 
with  his  hunting-knife;  one  day,  when  out  with 
six  hounds,  he  thus  killed  no  less  than  twelve  out 
of  the  fifteen  wolves  started,  though  one  of  the 
greyhounds  was  killed,  and  all  the  others  were  cut 
and  exhausted.  But  often  the  wolves  were  killed 
without  his  aid.  The  first  time  the  two  biggest 
hounds — deerhounds  or  wire-haired  greyhounds — 
were  tried,  when  they  had  been  at  the  ranch  only 
three  days,  they  performed  such  a  feat.  A  large 
wolf  had  killed  and  partially  eaten  a  sheep  in  a 


2i6         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

corral  close  to  the  ranch-house,  and  Porter  started 
on  the  trail,  and  followed  him  at  a  jog-trot  nearly 
ten  miles  before  the  hounds  sighted  him.  Run- 
ning but  a  few  rods,  he  turned  viciously  to  bay, 
and  the  two  great  greyhounds  struck  him  like 
stones  hurled  from  a  catapult,  throwing  him  as 
they  fastened  on  his  throat ;  they  held  him  down 
and  strangled  him  before  he  could  rise,  two  other 
hounds  getting  up  just  in  time  to  help  at  the  end 
of  the  worry. 

Ordinarily,  however,  no  two  greyhounds  or  deer- 
hounds  are  a  match  for  a  gray  wolf,  but  I  have 
known  of  several  instances  in  Colorado,  Wyoming, 
and  Montana,  in  which  three  strong  veterans  have 
killed  one.  The  feat  can  only  be  performed  by 
big  dogs  of  the  highest  courage,  who  all  act  to- 
gether, rush  in  at  top  speed,  and  seize  by  the 
throat ;  for  the  strength  of  the  quarry  is  such  that 
otherwise  he  will  shake  off  the  dogs,  and  then 
speedily  kill  them  by  rabid  snaps  with  his  terribly 
armed  jaws.  Where  possible,  half  a  dozen  dogs 
should  be  slipped  at  once,  to  minimize  the  risk  of 
injury  to  the  pack;  unless  this  is  done,  and  unless 
the  hunter  helps  the  dogs  in  the  worry,  accidents 
will  be  frequent,  and  an  occasional  wolf  will  be 
found  able  to  beat  off,  maiming  or  killing,  a  lesser 
number  of  assailants.  Some  hunters  prefer  the 
smooth  greyhound,  because  of  its  great  speed,  and 
others  the  wire-coated  animal,  the  rough  deer- 


Wolves  and  Wolf-Hounds        217 

hound,  because  of  its  superior  strength;  both,  if  of 
the  right  kind,  are  dauntless  fighters. 

Colonel  Williams's  greyhounds  have  performed 
many  noble  feats  in  wolf -hunting.  He  spent  the 
winter  of  1875  in  the  Black  Hills,  which  at  that 
time  did  not  contain  a  single  settler,  and  fairly 
swarmed  with  game.  Wolves  were  especially  nu- 
merous and  very  bold  and  fierce,  so  that  the  dogs 
of  the  party  were  continually  in  jeopardy  of  their 
lives.  On  the  other  hand,  they  took  an  ample 
vengeance,  for  many  wolves  were  caught  by  the 
pack.  Whenever  possible,  the  horsemen  kept  close 
enough  to  take  an  immediate  hand  in  the  fight,  if 
the  quarry  was  a  full-grown  wolf,  and  thus  save 
the  dogs  from  the  terrible  punishment  they  were 
otherwise  certain  to  receive.  The  dogs  invariably 
throttled,  rushing  straight  at  the  throat,  but  the 
wounds  they  themselves  received  were  generally 
in  the  flank  or  belly;  in  several  instances  these 
wounds  resulted  fatally.  Once  or  twice  a  wolf  was 
caught,  and  held  by  two  greyhounds  until  the 
horsemen  came  up ;  but  it  took  at  least  five  dogs 
to  overcome  and  slay  unaided  a  big  timber  wolf. 
Several  times  the  feat  was  performed  by  a  party  of 
five,  consisting  of  two  greyhounds,  one  rough- 
coated  deer-hound,  and  two  cross-bloods;  and 
once  by  a  litter  of  seven  young  greyhounds,  not 
yet  come  to  their  full  strength. 

Once  or  twice  the  so-called  Russian  wolf-hounds 


2i8         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

or  silky-coated  greyhounds,  the  "borzois,"  have 
been  imported  and  tried  in  wolf -hunting  on  the 
western  plains ;  but  hitherto  they  have  not  shown 
themselves  equal,  at  either  running  or  fighting, 
to  the  big  American-bred  greyhounds  of  the  type 
produced  by  Colonel  Williams  and  certain  others 
of  our  best  western  breeders.  Indeed,  I  have 
never  known  any  foreign  greyhounds,  whether 
Scotch,  English,  or  from  continental  Europe,  to 
perform  such  feats  of  courage,  endurance,  and 
strength,  in  chasing  and  killing  dangerous  game, 
as  the  homebred  greyhounds  of  Colonel  Williams. 


CHAPTER  IX 

IN    COWBOY    LAND 

OUT  on  the  frontier,  and  generally  among 
those  who  spend  their  lives  in,  or  on  the 
borders  of,  the  wilderness,  life  is  reduced 
to  its  elemental  conditions.  The  passions  and 
emotions  of  these  grim  hunters  of  the  mountains 
and  wild  rough  riders  of  the  plains,  are  simpler  and 
stronger  than  those  of  people  dwelling  in  more 
complicated  states  of  society.  As  soon  as  the 
communities  become  settled  and  begin  to  grow 
with  any  rapidity,  the  American  instinct  for  law 
asserts  itself;  but  in  the  earlier  stages  each  indi- 
vidual is  obliged  to  be  a  law  to  himself  and  to 
guard  his  rights  with  a  strong  hand.  Of  course, 
the  transition  periods  are  full  of  incongruities. 
Men  have  not  yet  adjusted  their  relations  to  moral- 
ity and  law  with  any  niceness.  They  hold  strongly 
by  certain  rude  virtues,  and  on  the  other  hand 
they  quite  fail  to  recognize  even  as  shortcomings 
not  a  few  traits  that  obtain  scant  mercy  in  older 
communities.  Many  of  the  desperadoes,  the  man- 
killers,  and  road-agents  have  good  sides  to  their 
characters.     Often  they  are  people  who,  in  certain 

219 


220  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

stages  of  civilization,  do,  or  have  done,  good  work, 
but  who,  when  these  stages  have  passed,  find 
themselves  surrounded  by  conditions  which  ac- 
centuate their  worst  qualities,  and  make  their 
best  qualities  useless.  The  average  desperado, 
for  instance,  has,  after  all,  much  the  same  stand- 
ard of  morals  that  the  Norman  nobles  had  in  the 
days  of  the  battle  of  Hastings,  and,  ethically  and 
morally,  he  is  decidedly  in  advance  of  the  vikings, 
who  were  the  ancestors  of  these  same  nobles — and 
to  whom,  by  the  way,  he  himself  could  doubtless 
trace  a  portion  of  his  blood.  If  the  transition 
from  the  wild  lawlessness  of  life  in  the  wilderness 
or  on  the  border  to  a  higher  civilization  were 
stretched  out  over  a  term  of  centuries,  he  and  his 
descendants  would  doubtless  accommodate  them- 
selves by  degrees  to  the  changing  circumstances. 
But  unfortunately  in  the  far  West  the  transition 
takes  place  with  marvellous  abruptness,  and  at  an 
altogether  unheard-of  speed,  and  many  a  man's 
nature  is  unable  to  change  with  sufficient  rapidity 
to  allow  him  to  harmonize  with  his  environment. 
In  consequence,  unless  he  leaves  for  still  wilder 
lands,  he  ends  by  getting  hung  instead  of  founding 
a  family  which  would  revere  his  name  as  that  of  a 
very  capable,  although  not  in  all  respects  a  con- 
ventionally moral,  ancestor. 

Most  of  the  men  with  whom  I  was  intimately 
thrown  during  my  life  on  the  frontier  and  in  the 


In  Cowboy  Land  221 

wilderness  were  good  fellows — hardworking,  brave, 
resolute,  and  truthful.  At  times,  of  course,  they 
were  forced  of  necessity  to  do  deeds  which  would 
seem  startling  to  dwellers  in  cities  and  in  old 
settled  places;  and  though  they  waged  a  very 
stern  and  relentless  warfare  upon  evil-doers  whose 
misdeeds  had  immediate  and  tangible  bad  results, 
they  showed  a  wide  toleration  of  all  save  the  most 
extreme  classes  of  wrong,  and  were  not  given  to 
inquiring  too  curiously  into  a  strong  man's  past, 
or  to  criticising  him  over-harshly  for  a  failure  to 
discriminate  in  finer  ethical  questions.  Moreover, 
not  a  few  of  the  men  with  whom  I  came  in  contact 
— with  some  of  whom  my  relations  were  very 
close  and  friendly — had  at  different  times  led 
rather  tough  careers.  This  fact  was  accepted  by 
them  and  by  their  companions  as  a  fact,  and 
nothing  more.  There  were  certain  offences,  such 
as  rape,  the  robbery  of  a  friend,  or  murder  under 
circumstances  of  cowardice  and  treachery,  which 
were  never  forgiven;  but  the  fact  that  when  the 
country  was  wild  a  young  fellow  had  gone  on  the 
road — that  is,  become  a  highwayman,  or  had  been 
chief  of  a  gang  of  desperadoes,  horse-thieves,  and 
cattle-killers,  was  scarcely  held  to  weigh  against 
him,  being  treated  as  a  regrettable,  but  certainly 
not  shameful,  trait  of  youth.  He  was  regarded 
by  his  neighbors  with  the  same  kindly  tolerance 
which    respectable    mediaeval    Scotch    borderers 


222         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

doubtless  extended  to  their  wilder  young  men 
who  would  persist  in  raiding  English  cattle  even 
in  time  of  peace. 

Of  course,  if  these  men  were  asked  outright  as  to 
their  stories  they  would  have  refused  to  tell  them, 
or  else  would  have  lied  about  them;  but  when 
they  had  grown  to  regard  a  man  as  a  friend  and 
companion  they  would  often  recount  various  in- 
cidents of  their  past  lives  with  perfect  frankness, 
and  as  they  combined  in  a  very  curious  degree 
both  a  decided  sense  of  humor,  and  a  failure  to 
appreciate  that  there  was  anything  especially  re- 
markable in  what  they  related,  their  tales  were 
always  entertaining. 

Early  one  spring,  now  nearly  ten  years  ago,  I 
was  out  hunting  some  lost  horses.  They  had 
strayed  from  the  range  three  months  before,  and 
we  had  in  a  roundabout  way  heard  that  they  were 
ranging  near  some  broken  country,  where  a  man 
named  Brophy  had  a  ranch,  nearly  fifty  miles 
from  my  own.  When  I  started  thither  the 
weather  was  warm,  but  the  second  day  out  it  grew 
colder  and  a  heavy  snow-storm  came  on.  Fortu- 
nately I  was  able  to  reach  the  ranch  all  right, 
finding  there  one  of  the  sons  of  a  Little  Beaver 
ranchman,  and  a  young  cow-puncher  belonging  to 
a  Texas  outfit,  whom  I  knew  very  well.  After 
putting  my  horse  into  the  corral  and  throwing  him 
down  some  hay  I  strode  into  the  low  hut,  made 


In  Cowboy  Land  223 

partly  of  turf  and  partly  of  cottonwood  logs,  and 
speedily  warmed  myself  before  the  fire.  We  had 
a  good  warm  supper,  of  bread,  potatoes,  fried 
venison,  and  tea.  My  two  companions  grew  very 
sociable  and  began  to  talk  freely  over  their  pipes. 
There  were  two  bunks,  one  above  the  other.  I 
climbed  into  the  upper,  leaving  my  friends,  who 
occupied  the  lower,  sitting  together  on  a  bench 
recounting  different  incidents  in  the  careers  of 
themselves  and  their  cronies  during  the  winter 
that  had  just  passed.  Soon  one  of  them  asked  the 
other  what  had  become  of  a  certain  horse,  a  noted 
cutting  pony,  which  I  had  myself  noticed  the  pre- 
ceding fall.  The  question  aroused  the  other  to 
the  memory  of  a  wrong  which  still  rankled,  and  he 
began  (I  alter  one  or  two  of  the  proper  names) : 

"  Why,  that  was  the  pony  that  got  stole.  I  had 
been  workin'  him  on  rough  ground  when  I  was 
out  with  the  Three  Bar  outfit  and  he  went  tender 
forward,  so  I  turned  him  loose  by  the  Lazy  B 
ranch,  and  when  I  come  back  to  git  him  there 
was  n't  anybody  at  the  ranch  and  I  could  n't  find 
him.  The  sheep-man  who  lives  about  two  miles 
west,  under  Red  Clay  butte,  told  me  he  seen  a 
fellow  in  a  wolfskin  coat,  ridin'  a  pinto  bronco, 
with  white  eyes,  leadin'  that  pony  of  mine  just 
two  days  before ;  and  I  hunted  round  till  I  hit  his 
trail,  and  then  I  followed  to  where  I  'd  reckoned 
he  was  headin*  for — the  Short  Pine  Hills.     When 


224         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

I  got  there  a  rancher  told  me  he  had  seen  the  man 
pass  on  towards  Cedartown,  and  sure  enough 
when  I  struck  Cedartown  I  found  he  Hved  there  in 
a  'dobe  house,  just  outside  the  town.  There  was  a 
boom  on  the  town  and  it  looked  pretty  slick. 
There  was  two  hotels  and  I  went  into  the  first, 
and  I  says,  'Where  's  the  justice  of  the  peace?' 
says  I  to  the  bartender. 

*'* There  ain't  no  justice  of  the  peace,'  says  he; 
'the  justice  of  the  peace  got  shot.' 

'"Well,  where  's  the  constable?'  says  I. 

" '  Why,  it  was  him  that  shot  the  justice  of  the 
peace ! '  says  he ;  '  he  's  skipped  the  country  with  a 
bunch  of  horses.' 

"'Well,  ain't  there  no  officer  of  the  law  left  in 
this  town?'  says  I. 

" '  Why,  of  course,'  says  he,  *  there  's  a  probate 
judge ;  he  is  over  tendin'  bar  at  the  Last  Chance 
Hotel.' 

"  So  I  went  over  to  the  Last  Chance  Hotel,  and 
I  walked  in  there.     'Mornin','  says  I. 

"'Mornin','  says  he. 

" '  You  're  the  probate  judge?'  says  I. 

" '  That 's  what  I  am,'  says  he.  '  What  do  you 
want?'  says  he. 

" '  I  want  justice,'  says  I. 

"'What  kind  of  justice  do  you  want?'  says  he. 
'What 'sit  for?' 

*"  It's  for  stealin'  a  horse,'  says  L 


In  Cowboy  Land  225 

•*'Then  by  God  you  '11  git  it,'  says  he.  'Who 
stole  the  horse?'  says  he. 

"*It  is  a  man  that  lives  in  a  'dobe  house,  just 
outside  the  town  there,'  says  I. 

'' '  Well,  where  do  you  come  from  yourself? '  said 
he. 

'"From  Medory,'  said  I. 

"With  that  he  lost  interest  and  settled  kind  o' 
back,  and  says  he,  'There  won't  no  Cedartown 
jury  hang  a  Cedartown  man  for  stealin'  a  Medory 
man's  horse,'  said  he. 

'"Well,  what  am  I  to  do  about  my  horse?' 
says  I. 

"'Do?'  says  he;  'well,  you  know  where  the 
man  lives,  don't  you?'  says  he;  'then  sit  up  out- 
side his  house  to-night  and  shoot  him  when 
he  comes  in,'  says  he,  'and  skip  out  with  the 
horse.' 

'"All  right,'  says  I,  ' that  is  what  I  '11  do,'  and  I 
walked  off. 

"  So  I  went  off  to  his  house,  and  I  laid  down  be- 
hind some  sage-brushes  to  wait  for  him.  He  was 
not  at  home,  but  I  could  see  his  wife  movin'  about 
inside  now  and  then,  and  I  waited  and  waited,  and 
it  growed  darker,  and  I  begun  to  say  to  myself, 
'Now  here  you  are  lyin'  out  to  shoot  this  man 
when  he  comes  home ;  and  it 's  gettin'  dark,  and 
you  don't  know  him,  and  if  you  do  shoot  the  next 
man  that  comes  into  that  house,  like  as  not  it 

VOL.  II. — 15. 


226         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

won't  be  the  fellow  you're  after  at  all,  but  some 
perfectly  innocent  man  a-comin'  there  after  the 
other  man's  wife!' 

*'  So  I  up  and  saddled  the  bronc'  and  lit  out  for 
home,"  concluded  the  narrator  with  the  air  of  one 
justly  proud  of  his  own  self -abnegating  virtue. 

The  "town"  where  the  judge  above-mentioned 
dwelt  was  one  of  those  squalid,  pretentiously 
named  little  clusters  of  make-shift  dwellings  which 
on  the  edge  of  the  wild  country  spring  up  with  the 
rapid  growth  of  mushrooms,  and  are  often  no 
longer  lived.  In  their  earlier  stages  these  towns 
are  frequently  built  entirely  of  canvas,  and  are 
subject  to  grotesque  calamities.  When  the  terri- 
tory purchased  from  the  Sioux,  in  the  Dakotas,  a 
couple  of  years  ago,  was  thrown  open  to  settle- 
ment, there  was  a  furious  inrush  of  men  on  horse- 
back and  in  wagons,  and  various  ambitious  cities 
sprang  up  overnight.  The  new  settlers  were  all 
under  the  influence  of  that  curious  craze  which 
causes  every  true  westerner  to  put  unlimited  faith 
in  the  unknown  and  untried;  many  had  left  all 
they  had  in  a  far  better  farming  country,  because 
they  were  true  to  their  immemorial  belief  that, 
wherever  they  were,  their  luck  would  be  better  if 
they  went  somewhere  else.  They  were  always  on 
the  move,  and  headed  for  the  vague  beyond.  As 
miners  see  visions  of  all  the  famous  mines  of  his- 
tory in  each  new  camp,  so  these  would-be  city 


In  Cowboy  Land  227 

founders  saw  future  St.  Pauls  and  Omahas  in 
every  forlorn  group  of  tents  pitched  by  some 
muddy  stream  in  a  desert  of  gumbo  and  sage- 
brush; and  they  named  both  the  towns  and  the 
canvas  buildings  in  accordance  with  their  bright 
hopes  for  the  morrow,  rather  than  with  reference 
to  the  mean  facts  of  the  day.  One  of  these  towns, 
which  when  twenty-four  hours  old  boasted  of  six 
saloons,  a  ** court-house,"  and  an  "opera  house," 
was  overwhelmed  by  early  disaster.  The  third 
day  of  its  life  a  whirlwind  came  along  and  took  off 
the  opera  house  and  half  the  saloons ;  and  the  fol- 
lowing evening  lawless  men  nearly  finished  the 
work  of  the  elements.  The  riders  of  a  huge  trail- 
outfit  from  Texas,  to  their  glad  surprise,  discovered 
the  town,  and  abandoned  themselves  to  a  night  of 
roaring  and  lethal  carousal.  Next  morning  the 
city  authorities  were  lamenting  with  oaths  of  bit- 
ter rage,  that  ''them  hell-and-twenty  Flying  A 
cow-punchers  had  cut  the  court-house  up  into 
pants."  It  was  true.  The  cowboys  were  in  need 
of  shaps,  and  with  an  admirable  mixture  of  ad- 
venturousness,  frugality,  and  ready  adaptability 
to  circumstances,  had  made  substitutes  therefor  in 
the  shape  of  canvas  overalls,  cut  from  the  roof  and 
walls  of  the  shaky  temple  of  justice. 

One  of  my  valued  friends  in  the  mountains,  and 
one  of  the  best  hunters  with  whom  I  ever  travelled^ 
was  a  man  who  had  a  peculiarly  light-hearted 


228         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

way  of  looking  at  conventional  social  obligations. 
Though  in  some  ways  a  true  backwoods  Dona- 
tello,  he  was  a  man  of  much  shrewdness  and  of 
great  courage  and  resolution.  Moreover,  he  pos- 
sessed what  only  a  few  men  do  possess,  the  capac- 
ity to  tell  the  truth.  He  saw  facts  as  they  were, 
and  could  tell  them  as  they  were,  and  he  never 
told  an  untruth  unless  for  very  weighty  reasons. 
He  was  pre-eminently  a  philosopher,  of  a  happy, 
sceptical  turn  of  mind.  He  had  no  prejudices. 
He  never  looked  down,  as  so  many  hard  characters 
do,  upon  a  person  possessing  a  different  code  of 
ethics.  His  attitude  was  one  of  broad,  genial  tol- 
erance. He  saw  nothing  out  of  the  way  in  the 
fact  that  he  had  himself  been  a  road-agent,  a  pro- 
fessional gambler,  and  a  desperado  at  different 
stages  of  his  career.  On  the  other  hand,  he  did 
not  in  the  least  hold  it  against  any  one  that  he  had 
always  acted  within  the  law.  At  the  time  that  I 
knew  him  he  had  become  a  man  of  some  sub- 
stance, and  naturally  a  staunch  upholder  of  the 
existing  order  of  things.  But  while  he  never 
boasted  of  his  past  deeds,  he  never  apologized  for 
them,  and  evidently  would  have  been  quite  as  in- 
capable of  understanding  that  they  needed  an 
apology  as  he  would  have  been  incapable  of  being 
guilty  of  mere  vulgar  boastfulness.  He  did  not 
often  allude  to  his  past  career  at  all.  When  he 
did,  he  recited  its  incidents  perfectly  naturally  and 


In  Cowboy  Land  229 

simply,  as  events,  without  any  reference  to  or  re- 
gard for  their  ethical  significance.  It  was  this 
quality  which  made  him  at  times  a  specially 
pleasant  companion,  and  always  an  agreeable 
narrator.  The  point  of  his  story,  or  what  seemed 
to  him  the  point,  was  rarely  that  which  struck  me. 
It  was  the  incidental  sidelights  the  story'  threw 
upon  his  own  nature  and  the  somewhat  lurid  sur- 
roundings amid  which  he  had  moved. 

On  one  occasion  when  we  were  out  together  we 
killed  a  bear,  and  after  skinning  it,  took  a  bath  in  a 
lake.  I  noticed  he  had  a  scar  on  the  side  of  his 
foot  and  asked  him  how  he  got  it,  to  which  he  re- 
sponded, with  indifference : 

"Oh,  that?  Why,  a  man  shootin'  at  me  to 
make  me  dance,  that  was  all." 

I  expressed  some  curiosity  in  the  matter,  and  he 
went  on : 

''Well,  the  way  of  it  was  this:  It  was  when  I 
was  keeping  a  saloon  in  New  Mexico,  and  there  was 
a  man  there  by  the  name  of  Fowler,  and  there  was 
a  reward  on  him  of  three  thousand  dollars " 

"  Put  on  him  by  the  State?" 

"  No,  put  on  by  his  wife,"  said  my  friend ;  "  and 
there  was  this " 

"  Hold  on,"  I  interrupted;  " put  on  by  his  wife, 
did  you  say?" 

"Yes,  by  his  wife.  Him  and  her  had  been 
keepin'  a  faro  bank,  you  see,  and  they  quarrelled 


230         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

about  it,  so  she  just  put  a  reward  on  him,  and 
so " 

" Excuse  me,"  I  said,  "but  do  you  mean  to  say 
that  this  reward  was  put  on  publicly?"  to  which 
my  friend  answered,  with  an  air  of  gentlemanly 
boredom  at  being  interrupted  to  gratify  my  thirst 
for  irrelevant  detail : 

''Oh,  no,  not  publicly.  She  just  mentioned  it 
to  six  or  eight  intimate  personal  friends." 

"Go  on,"  I  responded,  somewhat  overcome  by 
this  instance  of  the  primitive  simplicity  with 
which  New  Mexican  matrimonial  disputes  were 
managed,  and  he  continued : 

"  Well,  two  men  come  ridin'  in  to  see  me  to  bor- 
row my  guns.  My  guns  was  Colt's  self-cockers. 
It  was  a  new  thing  then,  and  they  was  the  only 
ones  in  town.  These  come  to  me,  and  '  Simpson,' 
says  they,  '  we  want  to  borrow  your  guns ;  we  are 
goin'  to  kill  Fowler.' 

" '  Hold  on  for  a  moment,'  said  I,  '  I  am  willin' 
to  lend  you  them  guns,  but  I  ain't  goin'  to  know 
what  you  'r'  goin'  to  do  with  them,  no  sir;  but  of 
course  you  can  have  the  guns. ' ' '  Here  my  friend's 
face  lightened  pleasantly,  and  he  continued: 

"Well,  you  may  easily  believe  I  felt  surprised 
next  day  when  Fowler  come  ridin'  in,  and,  says 
he,  '  Simpson,  here  's  your  guns ! '  He  had  shot 
them  two  men !  '  Well,  Fowler, '  says  I,  '  if  I  had 
known  them  men  was  after  you,  I'd  never  have 


In  Cowboy  Land  231 

let  them  have  them  guns,  nohow,'  says  I.  That 
was  n't  true,  for  I  did  know  it,  but  there  was  no 
cause  to  tell  him  that."  I  murmured  my  ap- 
proval of  such  prudence,  and  Simpson  continued, 
his  eyes  gradually  brightening  with  the  light  of 
agreeable  reminiscence : 

"Well,  they  up  and  the}^  took  Fowler  before 
the  justice  of  the  peace.  The  justice  of  the  peace 
was  a  Turk." 

"Now,  Simpson,  what  do  you  mean  by  that?" 
I  interrupted : 

"Well,  he  come  from  Turkey,"  said  Simpson, 
and  I  again  sank  back,  wondering  briefly  what 
particular  variety  of  Mediterranean  outcast  had 
drifted  down  to  New  Mexico  to  be  made  a  justice 
of  the  peace.     Simpson  laughed  and  continued : 

"That  Fowler  was  a  funny  fellow.  The  Turk, 
he  committed  Fowler,  and  Fowler,  he  riz  up  and 
knocked  him  down  and  tromped  all  over  him  and 
made  him  let  him  go!" 

"That  was  an  appeal  to  a  higher  law,"  I  ob- 
served. Simpson  assented  cheerily,  and  con- 
tinued : 

"Well,  that  Turk,  he  got  nervous  for  fear 
Fowler  he  was  goin'  to  kill  him,  and  so  he  comes 
to  me  and  offers  me  twenty-five  dollars  a  day  to 
protect  him  from  Fowler;  and  I  went  to  Fowler, 
and  'Fowler,'  says  I,  'that  Turk's  offered  me 
twenty-five  dollars  a  day  to  protect  him  from  you. 


232         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

Now,  I  ain't  goin'  to  get  shot  for  no  twenty-five 
dollars  a  day,  and  if  you  are  goin'  to  kill  the  Turk, 
just  say  so  and  go  and  do  it ;  but  if  you  ain't  goin' 
to  kill  the  Turk,  there  's  no  reason  why  I  should  n't 
earn  that  twenty-five  dollars  a  day ! '  and  Fowler, 
says  he,  *  I  ain't  goin'  to  touch  the  Turk;  you  just 
go  right  ahead  and  protect  him.'" 

So  Simpson  **  protected"  the  Turk  from  the  im- 
aginary danger  of  Fowler  for  about  a  week,  at 
twenty-five  dollars  a  day.  Then  one  evening  he 
happened  to  go  out  and  met  Fowler,  "and,"  said 
he,  **  the  moment  I  saw  him  I  knowed  he  felt  mean, 
for  he  begun  to  shoot  at  my  feet,"  which  certainly 
did  seem  to  offer  presumptive  evidence  of  mean- 
ness.    Simpson  continued: 

"  I  did  n't  have  no  gun,  so  I  just  had  to  stand 
there  and  take  it  until  something  distracted  his 
attention,  and  I  went  off  home  to  get  my  gun  and 
kill  him,  but  I  wanted  to  do  it  perfectly  lawful ;  so 
I  went  up  to  the  mayor  (he  was  play  in'  poker  with 
one  of  the  judges),  and  says  I  to  him,  *  Mr.  Mayor,' 
says  I,  *I  am  goin'  to  shoot  Fowler.'  And  the 
mayor  he  riz  out  of  his  chair  and  he  took  me  by 
the  hand,  and  says  he,  '  Mr.  Simpson,  if  you  do  I 
will  stand  by  you' ;  and  the  judge,  he  says,  ' I  '11 
go  on  your  bond.'" 

Fortified  by  this  cordial  approval  of  the  execu- 
tive and  judicial  branches  of  the  government,  Mr. 
Simpson  started  on  his  quest.     Meanwhile,  how- 


In  Cowboy  Land  233 

ever,  Fowler  had  cut  up  another  prominent  citizen, 
and  they  already  had  him  in  jail.  The  friends  of 
law  and  order  feeling  some  little  distrust  as  to  the 
permanency  of  their  own  zeal  for  righteousness, 
thought  it  best  to  settle  the  matter  before  there 
was  time  for  cooling,  and  accordingly,  headed  by 
Simpson,  the  mayor,  the  judge,  the  Turk,  and 
other  prominent  citizens  of  the  town,  they  broke 
into  the  jail  and  hanged  Fowler.  The  point  in  the 
hanging  which  especially  tickled  my  friend's  fancy, 
as  he  lingered  over  the  reminiscence,  was  one  that 
was  rather  too  ghastly  to  appeal  to  my  own  sense 
of  humor.  In  the  Turk's  mind  there  still  rankled 
the  memory  of  Fowler's  very  unprofessional  con- 
duct while  figuring  before  him  as  a  criminal.  Said 
Simpson,  with  a  merry  twinkle  of  the  eye:  *'Do 
you  know  that  Turk,  he  was  a  right  funny  fellow, 
too,  after  all.  Just  as  the  boys  were  going  to  string 
up  Fowler,  says  he,  '  Boys,  stop ;  one  moment, 
gentlemen, — Mr.  Fowler,  good-by,'  and  he  blew  a 
kiss  to  him!" 

In  the  cow  country,  and  elsewhere  on  the  wild 
borderland  between  savagery  and  civilization,  men 
go  quite  as  often  by  nicknames  as  by  those  to 
which  they  are  lawfully  entitled.  Half  the  cow- 
boys and  hunters  of  my  acquaintance  are  known 
by  names  entirely  unconnected  with  those  they 
inherited  or  received  when  they  were  chris- 
tened.   Occasionally,  some  would-be  desperado  or 


234  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

make-believe  mighty  hunter  tries  to  adopt  what  he 
deems  a  title  suitable  to  his  prowess ;  but  such  an 
effort  is  never  attempted  in  really  wild  places, 
where  it  would  be  greeted  with  huge  derision ;  for 
all  of  these  names  that  are  genuine  are  bestowed 
by  outsiders,  with  small  regard  to  the  wishes  of  the 
person  named.  Ordinarily,  the  name  refers  to 
some  easily  recognizable  accident  of  origin,  occupa- 
tion, or  aspect ;  as  witness  the  innumerable  Dutch- 
eys,  Frencheys,  Kentucks,  Texas  Jacks,  Bronco 
Bills,  Bear  Joes,  Buckskins,  Red  Jims,  and  the  like. 
Sometimes  it  is  apparently  meaningless;  one  of 
my  cow-puncher  friends  is  always  called  "  Sliver" 
or  **  Splinter" — why,  I  have  no  idea.  At  other 
times  some  particular  incident  may  give  rise  to 
the  title :  a  clean-looking  cowboy  formerly  in  my 
employ  was  always  known  as  ''Muddy  Bill,"  be- 
cause he  had  once  been  bucked  off  his  horse  into  a 
mud  hole. 

The  grewsome  genesis  of  one  such  name  is  given 
in  the  following  letter  which  I  have  just  received 
from  an  old  hunting-friend  in  the  Rockies,  who 
took  a  kindly  interest  in  a  frontier  cabin  which  the 
Boone  and  Crockett  Club  was  putting  up  at  the 
Chicago  World's  Fair : 

"Feb  1 6th  1893;  Der  Sir:  I  see  in  the  news- 
papers that  your  club  the  Daniel  Boon  and  Davey 
Crockit  you  Intend  to  erect  a  f  runtier  Cabin  at  the 


In  Cowboy  Land  235 

world's  Far  at  Chicago  to  represent  the  erley 
Pianears  of  our  country  I  would  like  to  see  you 
maik  a  success  I  have  all  my  life  been  a  fruntiers- 
man  and  feel  interested  in  your  undertaking  and 
I  hoap  you  wile  get  a  good  assortment  of  relicks  I 
want  to  maik  one  suggestion  to  you  that  is  in  re- 
gard to  geting  a  good  man  and  a  genuine  Maun- 
tanner  to  take  charg  of  your  haus  at  Chicago  I 
want  to  recommend  a  man  for  you  to  get  it  is 
Liver-eating  Johnson  that  is  the  naim  he  is  gener- 
ally called  he  is  an  olde  mauntneer  and  large  and 
fine  looking  and  one  of  the  Best  Story  Tellers  in 
the  country  and  Very  Polight  genteel  to  every  one 
he  meets  I  wil  tel  you  how  he  got  that  naim  Liver- 
eating  in  a  hard  Fight  with  the  Black  Feet  Indians 
thay  Faught  all  day  Johnson  and  a  Few  Whites 
Faught  a  large  Body  of  Indians  all  day  after  the 
fight  Johnson  cam  in  contact  with  a  wounded  In- 
dian and  Johnson  was  aut  of  ammunition  and 
thay  faught  it  out  with  thar  Knives  and  Johnson 
got  away  with  the  Indian  and  in  the  fight  cut  the 
livver  out  of  the  Indian  and  said  to  the  Boys  did 
thay  want  any  Liver  to  eat  that  is  the  way  he  got 
the  naim  of  Liver-eating  Johnson 

"Yours  truly"  etc.,  etc. 

Frontiersmen  are  often  as  original  in  their  the- 
ories of  life  as  in  their  names ;  and  the  originality 
may  take  the  form  of  wild  savagery,  of  mere 


236  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

uncouthness,  or  of  an  odd  combination  of  genuine 
humor  with  simple  acceptance  of  facts  as  they  are. 
On  one  occasion  I  expressed  some  surprise  at 
learning  that  a  certain  Mrs.  P.  had  suddenly  mar- 
ried, though  her  husband  was  alive  and  in  jail  in  a 
neighboring  town ;  and  received  for  answer :  "  Well, 
you  see,  old  man  Pete  he  skipped  the  coimtry,  and 
left  his  widow  behind  him,  and  so  Bob  Evans  he 
up  and  married  her!" — which  was  evidently  felt 
to  be  a  proceeding  requiring  no  explanation  what- 
ever. 

In  the  cow  country  there  is  nothing  more  re- 
freshing than  the  light-hearted  belief  entertained 
by  the  average  man  to  the  effect  that  any  animal 
which  by  main  force  has  been  saddled  and  ridden, 
or  harnessed  and  driven  a  couple  of  times,  is  a 
''broke  horse."  My  present  foreman  is  firmly 
wedded  to  this  idea,  as  well  as  to  its  complement, 
the  belief  that  any  animal  with  hoofs,  before  any 
vehicle  with  wheels,  can  be  driven  across  any 
country.  One  summer  on  reaching  the  ranch  I 
was  entertained  with  the  usual  accounts  of  the 
adventures  and  misadventures  which  had  befallen 
my  own  men  and  my  neighbors  since  I  had  been 
out  last.  In  the  course  of  the  conversation  my 
foreman  remarked:  "We  had  a  great  time  out 
here  about  six  weeks  ago.  There  was  a  professor 
from  Ann  Arbor  came  out  with  his  wife  to  see  the 
Bad  Lands,  and  they  asked  if  we  could  rig  them 


In  Cowboy  Land  237 

up  a  team,  and  we  said  we  guessed  we  could,  and 
Foley's  boy  and  I  did;  but  it  ran  away  with  him 
and  broke  his  leg !  He  was  here  for  a  month.  I 
guess  he  did  n't  mind  it,  though."  Of  this  I  was 
less  certain,  forlorn  little  Medora  being  a  '*  busted" 
cow-town,  concerning  which  I  once  heard  another 
of  my  men  remark,  in  reply  to  an  inq-uisitive  com- 
mercial traveller:  '*  How  many  people  lives  here? 
Eleven — counting  the  chickens — when  they  're  all 
in  town!" 

My  foreman  continued :  "By  George,  there  was 
something  that  professor  said  afterwards  that 
made  me  feel  hot.  I  sent  word  up  to  him  by 
Foley's  boy  that  seein'  as  how  it  had  come  out  we 
would  n't  charge  him  nothin'  for  the  rig ;  and  that 
professor  he  answered  that  he  was  glad  we  were 
showing  him  some  sign  of  consideration,  for  he  'd 
begun  to  believe  he  'd  fallen  into  a  den  of  sharks, 
and  that  we  gave  him  a  runaway  team  a  purpose. 
That  made  me  hot,  calling  that  a  runaway  team. 
Why,  there  was  one  of  them  horses  never  could 
have  run  away  before ;  it  had  n't  never  been  druv 
but  twice!  and  the  other  horse  maybe  had  run 
away  a  few  times,  but  there  was  lots  of  times  he 
had  nH  run  away.  I  esteemed  that  team  full  as 
liable  not  to  run  away  as  it  was  to  run  away,"  con- 
cluded my  foreman,  evidently  deeming  this  as 
good  a  warranty  of  gentleness  as  the  most  exact- 
ing could  require. 


238         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

The  definition  of  good  behavior  on  the  frontier 
is  even  more  elastic  for  a  saddle-horse  than  for  a 
team.  Last  spring  one  of  the  Three-Seven  riders, 
a  magnificent  horseman,  was  killed  on  the  round- 
up near  Belfield,  his  horse  bucking  and  falling  on 
him.  ''It  was  accounted  a  plumb  gentle  horse, 
too,"  said  my  informant,  ''only  it  sometimes 
sulked  and  acted  a  little  mean  when  it  was  cinched 
up  behind."  The  unfortunate  rider  did  not  know 
of  this  failing  of  the  "  plumb  gentle  horse,"  and  as 
soon  as  he  was  in  the  saddle  it  threw  itself  over 
sideways  with  a  great  bound,  and  he  fell  on  his 
head,  and  never  spoke  again. 

Such  accidents  are  too  common  in  the  wild 
country  to  attract  very  much  attention ;  the  men 
accept  them  with  grim  quiet,  as  inevitable  in  such 
lives  as  theirs — lives  that  are  harsh  and  narrow  in 
their  toil  and  their  pleasure  alike,  and  that  are 
ever-bounded  by  an  iron  horizon  of  hazard  and 
hardship.  During  the  last  year  and  a  half  three 
other  men  from  the  ranches  in  my  immediate 
neighborhood  have  met  their  deaths  in  the  course 
of  their  work.  One,  a  trail  boss  of  the  O  X,  was 
drowned  while  swimming  his  herd  across  a  swollen 
river.  Another,  one  of  the  fancy  ropers  of  the  W 
Bar,  was  killed  while  roping  cattle  in  a  corral ;  his 
saddle  turned,  the  rope  twisted  round  him,  he  was 
pulled  off,  and  was  trampled  to  death  by  his  own 
horse. 


In  Cowboy  Land  239 

The  fourth  man,  a  cow-puncher  named  Hamil- 
ton, lost  his  life  during  the  last  week  of  October, 
1 89 1,  in  the  first  heavy  snow-storm  of  the  season. 
Yet  he  was  a  skilled  plainsman,  on  ground  he  knew 
well,  and,  just  before  straying  himself,  he  success- 
fully instructed  two  men  who  did  not  know  the 
country  how  to  get  to  camp.  They  were  all  three 
with .  the  round-up,  and  were  making  a  circle 
through  the  Bad  Lands ;  the  wagons  had  camped 
on  the  eastern  edge  of  these  Bad  Lands,  where 
they  merged  into  the  prairie,  at  the  head  of  an  old 
disused  road,  which  led  about  due  east  from  the 
Little  Missouri.  It  was  a  gray,  lowering  day,  and 
as  darkness  came  on  Hamilton's  horse  played  out, 
and  he  told  his  two  companions  not  to  wait,  as  it 
had  begun  to  snow,  but  to  keep  on  towards  the 
north,  skirting  some  particularly  rough  buttes, 
and  as  soon  as  they  struck  the  road  to  turn  to  the 
right  and  follow  it  out  to  the  prairie,  where  they 
would  find  camp;  he  particularly  warned  them 
to  keep  a  sharp  lookout,  so  as  not  to  pass  over 
the  dim  trail  unawares  in  the  dusk  and  the  storm. 
They  followed  his  advice,  and  reached  camp 
safely;  and  after  they  had  left  him  nobody  ever 
again  saw  him  alive.  Evidently  he  himself,  plod- 
ding northwards,  passed  over  the  road  without 
seeing  it  in  the  gathering  gloom;  probably  he 
struck  it  at  some  point  where  the  ground  was  bad, 
and  the  dim  trail   in   consequence   disappeared 


240         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

entirely,  as  is  the  way  with  these  prairie  roads — 
making  them  landmarks  to  be  used  with  caution. 
He  must  then  have  walked  on  and  on,  over  rugged 
hills  and  across  deep  ravines,  until  his  horse  came 
to  a  standstill ;  he  took  off  its  saddle  and  picketed 
it  to  a  dwarfed  ash.  Its  frozen  carcass  was  found 
with  the  saddle  near  by,  two  months  later.  He 
now  evidently  recognized  some  landmark,  and 
realized  that  he  had  passed  the  road,  and  was  far 
to  the  north  of  the  round-up  wagons ;  but  he  was 
a  resolute,  self-confident  man,  and  he  determined 
to  strike  out  for  a  line  camp,  which  he  knew  lay 
about  due  east  of  him,  two  or  three  miles  out  on 
the  prairie,  on  one  of  the  head  branches  of  Knife 
River.  Night  must  have  fallen  by  this  time,  and 
he  missed  the  camp,  probably  passing  it  within  less 
than  a  mile;  but  he  did  pass  it,  and  with  it  all 
hopes  of  life,  and  walked  wearily  on  to  his  doom, 
through  the  thick  darkness  and  the  driving  snow. 
At  last  his  strength  failed,  and  he  lay  down  in  the 
tall  grass  of  a  little  hollow.  Five  months  later,  in 
the  early  spring,  the  riders  from  the  line  camp 
found  his  body,  resting  face  downwards,  with  the 
forehead  on  the  folded  arms. 

Accidents  of  less  degree  are  common.  Men 
break  their  collar-bones,  arms,  or  legs  by  falling 
when  riding  at  speed  over  dangerous  ground,  when 
cutting  cattle  or  trying  to  control  a  stampeded 
herd,  or  by  being  thrown  or  rolled  on  by  bucking 


In  Cowboy  Land  241 

or  rearing  horses ;  or  their  horses,  and  on  rare  oc- 
casions even  they  themselves,  are  gored  by  fight- 
ing steers.  Death  by  storm  or  in  flood,  death  in 
striving  to  master  a  wild  and  vicious  horse,  or  in 
handling  maddened  cattle,  and  too  often  death 
in  brutal  conflict  with  one  of  his  own  fellows — 
any  one  of  these  is  the  not  imnatural  end  of 
the  life  of  the  dweller  on  the  plains  or  in  the 
mountains. 

But  a  few  years  ago  other  risks  had  to  be  run 
from  savage  beasts,  and  from  the  Indians.  Since 
I  have  been  ranching  on  the  Little  Missouri,  two 
men  have  been  killed  by  bears  in  the  neighbor- 
hood of  my  range;  and  in  the  early  years  of  my 
residence  there,  several  men  living  or  travelling  in 
the  country  were  slain  by  small  war-parties  of 
young  braves.  All  the  old-time  trappers  and 
hunters  could  tell  stirring  tales  of  their  encounters 
with  Indians. 

My  friend,  Tazewell  Woody,  was  among  the 
chief  actors  in  one  of  the  most  noteworthy  adven- 
tures of  this  kind.  He  was  a  very  quiet  man,  and 
it  was  exceedingly  difficult  to  get  him  to  talk  over 
any  of  his  past  experiences ;  but  one  day,  when  he 
was  in  high  good-humor  with  me  for  having  made 
three  consecutive  straight  shots  at  elk,  he  became 
quite  communicative,  and  I  was  able  to  get  him  to 
tell  me  one  story  which  I  had  long  wished  to  hear 
from  his  lips,  having  already  heard  of  it  through 

VOL.   II, — 16, 


242         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

one  of  the  other  survivors  of  the  incident.  When 
he  found  that  I  already  knew  a  good  deal  old 
Woody  told  me  the  rest. 

It  was  in  the  spring  of  1875,  and  Woody  and 
two  friends  were  trapping  on  the  Yellowstone. 
The  Sioux  were  very  bad  at  the  time,  and  had 
killed  many  prospectors,  hunters,  cowboys,  and 
settlers ;  the  whites  retaliated  whenever  they  got 
a  chance,  but,  as  always  in  Indian  warfare,  the 
sly,  lurking,  bloodthirsty  savages  inflicted  much 
more  loss  than  they  suffered. 

The  three  men,  having  a  dozen  horses  with  them, 
were  camped  by  the  riverside  in  a  triangular 
patch  of  brush,  shaped  a  good  deal  like  a  common 
flat-iron.  On  reaching  camp  they  started  to  put 
out  their  traps;  and  when  he  came  back  in  the 
evening  Woody  informed  his  companions  that  he 
had  seen  a  great  deal  of  Indian  sign,  and  that  he 
believed  there  were  Sioux  in  the  neighborhood. 
His  companions  both  laughed  at  him,  assuring  him 
that  they  were  not  Sioux  at  all,  but  friendly  Crows, 
and  that  they  would  be  in  camp  next  morning; 
"and  sure  enough,"  said  Woody,  meditatively, 
"they  were  in  camp  next  morning"  By  dawn 
one  of  the  men  went  down  the  river  to  look  at 
some  of  the  traps,  while  Woody  started  out  to 
where  the  horses  were,  the  third  man  remaining  in 
camp  to  get  breakfast.  Suddenly  two  shots  were 
heard  down  the  river,  and  in  another  moment  a 


In  Cowboy  Land  243 

motmted  Indian  swept  towards  the  horses.  Woody 
fired,  but  missed  him,  and  he  drove  off  five  while 
Woody,  running  forward,  succeeded  in  herding 
the  other  seven  into  camp.  Hardly  had  this  been 
accomplished  before  the  man  who  had  gone  down 
the  river  appeared,  out  of  breath  with  his  desper- 
ate run,  having  been  surprised  by  several  Indians, 
and  just  succeeded  in  making  his  escape  by  dodg- 
ing from  bush  to  bush,  threatening  his  pursuers 
with  his  rifle. 

These  proved  to  be  but  the  forerunners  of  a 
great  war  party,  for  when  the  sun  rose  the  hills 
around  seemed  black  with  Sioux.  Had  they 
chosen  to  dash  right  in  on  the  camp,  running  the 
risk  of  losing  several  of  their  men  in  the  charge, 
they  could  of  course  have  eaten  up  the  three 
hunters  in  a  minute;  but  such  a  charge  is  rarely 
practised  by  Indians,  who,  although  they  are  ad- 
mirable in  defensive  warfare,  and  even  in  certain 
kinds  of  offensive  movements,  and  although  from 
their  skill  in  hiding  they  usually  inflict  much  more 
loss  than  they  suffer  when  matched  against  white 
troops,  are  yet  very  reluctant  to  make  any  move- 
ment where  the  advantage  gained  must  be  off- 
set by  considerable  loss  of  life.  The  three  men 
thought  they  were  surely  doomed,  but  being 
veteran  frontiersmen  and  long  inured  to  every 
kind  of  hardship  and  danger,  they  set  to  work 
with  cool  resolution  to  make  as  effective  a  defence 


244         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

as  possible,  to  beat  off  their  antagonists  if  they 
might,  and  if  this  proved  impracticable,  to  sell 
their  lives  as  dearly  as  they  could.  Having 
tethered  the  horses  in  a  slight  hollow,  the  only 
one  which  offered  any  protection,  each  man  crept 
out  to  a  point  of  the  triangular  brush  patch  and 
lay  down  to  await  events. 

In  a  very  short  while  the  Indians  began  closing 
in  on  them,  taking  every  advantage  of  cover,  and 
then,  both  from  their  side  of  the  river  and  from 
the  opposite  bank,  opened  a  perfect  fusillade, 
wasting  their  cartridges  with  a  recklessness  which 
Indians  are  apt  to  show  when  excited.  The  himt- 
ers  could  hear  the  hoarse  commands  of  the  chiefs, 
the  war-whoops,  and  the  taunts  in  broken  English 
which  some  of  the  warriors  hurled  at  them.  Very 
soon  all  of  their  horses  were  killed,  and  the  brush 
was  fairly  riddled  by  the  incessant  volleys;  but 
the  three  men  themselves,  lying  flat  on  the  groimd 
and  well  concealed,  were  not  harmed.  The  more 
daring  young  warriors  then  began  to  creep  toward 
the  hunters,  going  stealthily  from  one  piece  of 
cover  to  the  next;  and  now  the  whites  in  turn 
opened  fire.  They  did  not  shoot  recklessly,  as  did 
their  foes,  but  coolly  and  quietly,  endeavoring  to 
make  each  shot  tell.  Said  Woody:  " I  only  fired 
seven  times  all  day;  I  reckoned  on  getting  meat 
every  time  I  pulled  trigger."  They  had  an  im- 
mense  advantage   over  their  enemies,   in  that 


In  Cowboy  Land  245 

whereas  they  lay  still  and  entirely  concealed,  the 
Indians  of  course  had  to  move  from  cover  to  cover 
in  order  to  approach,  and  so  had  at  times  to  expose 
themselves.  When  the  whites  fired  at  all  they 
fired  at  a  man,  whether  moving  or  motionless, 
whom  they  could  clearly  see,  while  the  Indians 
could  only  shoot  at  the  smoke,  which  imperfectly 
marked  the  position  of  their  unseen  foes.  In  con- 
sequence, the  assailants  speedily  found  that  it  was 
a  task  of  hopeless  danger  to  try  in  such  a  manner 
to  close  in  on  three  plains  veterans,  men  of  iron 
nerve  and  skilled  in  the  use  of  the  rifle.  Yet  some 
of  the  more  daring  crept  up  very  close  to  the  patch 
of  brush,  and  one  actually  got  inside  it,  and  was 
killed  among  the  bedding  that  lay  by  the  smoulder- 
ing camp-fire.  The  wounded  and  such  of  the 
dead  as  did  not  lie  in  too  exposed  positions  were 
promptly  taken  away  by  their  comrades;  but 
seven  bodies  fell  into  the  hands  of  the  three  hunt- 
ers. I  asked  Woody  how  many  he  himself  had 
killed.  He  said  he  could  only  be  sure  of  two  that 
he  got ;  one  he  shot  in  the  head  as  he  peeped  over 
a  bush,  and  the  other  he  shot  through  the  smoke 
as  he  attempted  to  rush  in.  ''My,  how  that  In- 
dian did  yell!"  said  Woody,  retrospectively;  ''he 
was  no  great  of  a  Stoic."  After  two  or  three  hours 
of  this  deadly  skirmishing,  which  resulted  in 
nothing  more  serious  to  the  whites  than  in  two  of 
them  being  slightly  wounded,  the  Sioux  became 


246         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

disheartened  by  the  loss  they  were  suffering  and 
withdrew,  confining  themselves  thereafter  to  a 
long  range  and  harmless  fusillade.  When  it  was 
dark  the  three  men  crept  out  to  the  river  bed,  and 
taking  advantage  of  the  pitchy  night  broke  through 
the  circle  of  their  foes ;  they  managed  to  reach  the 
settlements  without  further  molestation,  having 
lost  everything  except  their  rifles. 

For  many  years  one  of  the  most  important  of 
the  wilderness  dwellers  was  the  West  Point  officer, 
and  no  man  has  played  a  greater  part  than  he  in 
the  wild  warfare  which  opened  the  regions  beyond 
the  Mississippi  to  white  settlement.  Since  1879, 
there  has  been  but  little  regular  Indian  fighting  in 
the  North,  though  there  have  been  one  or  two  very 
tedious  and  wearisome  campaigns  waged  against 
the  Apaches  in  the  South.  Even  in  the  North, 
however,  there  have  been  occasional  uprisings 
which  had  to  be  quelled  by  the  regular  troops. 

After  my  elk-hunt  in  September,  1891,  I  came 
out  through  the  Yellowstone  Park,  as  I  have  else- 
where related,  riding  in  company  with  a  surveyor 
of  the  Burlington  and  Quincy  railroad,  who  was 
just  coming  in  from  his  summer's  work.  It  was 
the  first  of  October.  There  had  been  a  heavy 
snow-storm  and  the  snow  was  still  falling.  Riding 
a  stout  pony  each,  and  leading  another  packed 
with  our  bedding,  etc.,  we  broke  our  way  from  the 
Upper  to  the  Middle  Geyser  Basin.    Here  we  found 


In  Cowboy  Land  247 

a  troop  of  the  ist  Cavalry  camped,  under  the  com- 
mand of  old  friends  of  mine,  Captain  Frank  Ed- 
wards and  Lieutenant  (now  Captain)  John  Pitcher. 
They  gave  us  hay  for  our  horses  and  insisted  upon 
our  stopping  to  lunch,  with  the  ready  hospitality 
always  shown  by  army  officers.  After  lunch  we 
began  exchanging  stories.  My  travelling  com- 
panion, the  surveyor,  had  that  spring  performed 
a  feat  of  note,  going  through  one  of  the  canyons  of 
the  Big  Horn  for  the  first  time.  He  went  with  an 
old  mining  inspector,  the  two  of  them  dragging  a 
Cottonwood  sledge  over  the  ice.  The  walk  of  the 
canyon  are  so  sheer  and  the  water  so  rough  that  it 
can  be  descended  only  when  the  stream  is  frozen. 
However,  after  six  days'  labor  and  hardship  the 
descent  was  accomplished;  and  the  surveyor,  in 
concluding,  described  his  experience  in  going 
through  the  Crow  Reservation. 

This  turned  the  conversation  upon  Indians,  and 
it  appeared  that  both  of  our  hosts  had  been  actors 
in  Indian  scrapes  which  had  attracted  my  atten- 
tion at  the  time  they  occurred,  as  they  took  place 
among  tribes  that  I  knew  and  in  a  country  which 
I  had  sometime  visited,  either  when  hunting  or 
when  purchasing  horses  for  the  ranch.  The  first, 
which  occurred  to  Captain  Edwards,  happened 
late  in  1886,  at  the  time  when  the  Crow  Medicine 
Chief,  Sword-Bearer,  announced  himself  as  the 
Messiah  of  the  Indian  race,  during  one  of  the  usual 


248         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

epidemics  of  ghost  dancing.  Sword-Bearer  de- 
rived his  name  from  always  wearing  a  medicine 
sword — ^that  is,  a  sabre  painted  red.  He  claimed 
to  possess  magic  power,  and,  thanks  to  the  per- 
formance of  many  dextrous  feats  of  juggling,  and 
the  lucky  outcome  of  certain  prophecies,  he  deeply 
stirred  the  Indians,  arousing  the  young  warriors 
in  particular  to  the  highest  pitch  of  excitement. 
They  became  sullen,  began  to  paint,  and  armed 
themselves ;  and  the  agent  and  the  settlers  nearby 
grew  so  apprehensive  that  the  troops  were  ordered 
to  go  to  the  reservation.  A  body  of  cavalry,  in- 
cluding Captain  Edwards's  troop,  was  accordingly 
marched  thither,  and  found  the  Crow  warriors, 
mounted  on  their  war  ponies  and  dressed  in  their 
striking  battle-garb,  waiting  on  a  hill. 

The  position  of  troops  at  the  beginning  of  such 
an  affair  is  always  peculiarly  difficult.  The  settlers 
roundabout  are  sure  to  clamor  bitterly  against 
them,  no  matter  what  they  do,  on  the  ground  that 
they  are  not  thorough  enough  and  are  showing 
favor  to  the  savages,  while  on  the  other  hand, 
even  if  they  fight  purely  in  self-defence,  a  large 
number  of  worthy  but  weak-minded  sentimen- 
talists in  the  East  are  sure  to  shriek  about  their 
having  brutally  attacked  the  Indians.  The  war 
authorities  always  insist  that  they  must  not  fire 
the  first  shot  under  any  circumstances,  and  such 
were  the  orders  at  this  time.    The  Crows  on  the 


In  Cowboy  Land  249 

hilltop  showed  a  sullen  and  threatening  front,  and 
the  troops  advanced  slowly  towards  them  and  then 
halted  for  a  parley.  Meanwhile  a  mass  of  black 
thunder-clouds  gathering  on  the  horizon  threatened 
one  of  those  cloudbursts  of  extreme  severity  and 
suddenness  so  characteristic  of  the  plains  country. 
While  still  trying  to  make  arrangements  for  a  par- 
ley, a  horseman  started  out  of  the  Crow  ranks  and 
galloped  headlong  down  towards  the  troops.  It 
was  the  medicine  chief.  Sword- Bearer.  He  was 
painted  and  in  his  battle-dress,  wearing  his  war- 
bonnet  of  floating,  trailing  eagle  feathers,  while 
the  plumes  of  the  same  bird  were  braided  in  the 
mane  and  tail  of  his  fiery  little  horse.  On  he  came 
at  a  gallop  almost  up  to  the  troops  and  then  began 
to  circle  around  them,  calling  and  singing  and 
throwing  his  crimson  sword  into  the  air,  catching 
it  by  the  hilt  as  it  fell.  Twice  he  rode  completely 
around  the  soldiers,  who  stood  in  uncertainty,  not 
knowing  what  to  make  of  his  performance,  and 
expressly  forbidden  to  shoot  at  him.  Then  paying 
no  further  heed  to  them  he  rode  back  towards  the 
Crows.  It  appears  that  he  had  told  them  that  he 
would  ride  twice  around  the  hostile  force,  and  by 
his  incantations  would  call  down  rain  from  heaven 
which  would  make  the  hearts  of  the  white  men 
like  water,  so  that  they  should  go  back  to  their 
homes.  Sure  enough,  while  the  arrangements  for 
the  parley  were  still  going  forward,  down  came 


250         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

the  cloudburst,  drenching  the  command  and  mak- 
ing the  ground  on  the  hills  in  front  nearly  impass- 
able; and  before  it  dried  a  courier  arrived  with 
orders  to  the  troops  to  go  back  to  camp. 

This  fulfilment  of  Sword- Bearer's  prophecy,  of 
course,  raised  his  reputation  to  the  zenith,  and  the 
young  men  of  the  tribe  prepared  for  war,  while  the 
older  chiefs,  who  more  fully  realized  the  power  of 
the  whites,  still  hung  back.  When  the  troops 
next  appeared  they  came  upon  the  entire  Crow 
force,  the  women  and  children  with  their  tepees 
being  off  to  one  side  beyond  a  little  stream,  while 
almost  all  the  warriors  of  the  tribe  were  gathered 
in  front.  Sword-Bearer  started  to  repeat  his 
former  ride,  to  the  intense  irritation  of  the  soldiers. 
Luckily,  however,  this  time  some  of  his  young 
men  could  not  be  restrained.  They  too  began  to 
ride  near  the  troops,  and  one  of  them  was  unable 
to  refrain  from  firing  on  Captain  Edwards's  troop, 
which  was  in  the  van.  This  gave  the  soldiers 
their  chance.  They  instantly  responded  with  a 
volley,  and  Captain  Edwards's  troop  charged.  The 
fight  lasted  but  a  minute  or  two,  for  Sword- Bearer 
was  struck  by  a  bullet  and  fell,  and  as  he  had 
boasted  himself  invulnerable,  and  promised  that 
his  warriors  should  be  invulnerable  also  if  they 
would  follow  him,  the  hearts  of  the  latter  became 
as  water,  and  they  broke  in  every  direction.  One 
of  the  amusing,  though  irritating,  incidents  of  the 


In  Cowboy  Land  251 

affair  was  to  see  the  plumed  and  painted  warriors 
race  headlong  for  the  camp,  plunge  into  the 
stream,  wash  off  their  war  paint,  and  remove  their 
feathers ;  in  another  moment  they  would  be  stol- 
idly sitting  on  the  ground,  with  their  blankets 
over  their  shoulders,  rising  to  greet  the  pursuing 
cavalry  with  unmoved  composure  and  calm  assur- 
ances that  they  had  always  been  friendly  and  had 
much  disapproved  the  conduct  of  the  young  bucks 
who  had  just  been  scattered  on  the  field  outside. 
It  was  much  to  the  credit  of  the  discipline  of  the 
army  that  no  bloodshed  followed  the  fight  proper. 
The  loss  to  the  whites  was  small. 

The  other  incident,  related  by  Lieutenant 
Pitcher,  took  place  in  1890,  near  Tongue  River,  in 
northern  Wyoming.  The  command  with  which  he 
was  serving  was  camped  near  the  Cheyenne  Res- 
servation.  One  day  two  young  Cheyenne  bucks 
met  one  of  the  government  herders,  and  promptly 
killed  him — in  a  sudden  fit,  half  of  ungovernable 
blood  lust,  half  of  mere  ferocious  lightheartedness. 
They  then  dragged  his  body  into  the  brush  and 
left  it.  The  disappearance  of  the  herder  of  course 
attracted  attention,  and  a  search  was  organized  by 
the  cavalry.  At  first ,  the  Indians  stoutly  denied  all 
knowledge  of  the  missing  man;  but  when  it  be- 
came evident  that  the  search  party  would  shortly 
find  him,  two  or  three  of  the  chiefs  joined  them, 
and  piloted  them  to  where  the  body  lay,  and 


252  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

acknowledged  that  he  had  been  murdered  by  two 
of  their  band,  though  at  first  they  refused  to  give 
their  names.  The  commander  of  the  post  de- 
manded that  the  murderers  be  given  up.  The 
chiefs  said  that  they  were  very  sorry,  that  this 
could  not  be  done,  but  that  they  were  willing  to 
pay  over  any  reasonable  number  of  ponies  to 
make  amends  for  the  death.  This  offer  was,  of 
course,  promptly  refused,  and  the  commander  noti- 
fied them  that  if  they  did  not  surrender  the  mur- 
derers by  a  certain  time  he  would  hold  the  whole 
tribe  responsible  and  would  promptly  move  out 
and  attack  them.  Upon  this  the  chiefs,  after 
holding  full  counsel  with  the  tribe,  told  the  com- 
mander that  they  had  no  power  to  surrender  the 
murderers,  but  that  the  latter  had  said  that 
sooner  than  see  their  tribe  involved  in  a  hopeless 
struggle  they  would  of  their  own  accord  come  in 
and  meet  the  troops  anywhere  the  latter  chose  to 
appoint,  and  die  fighting.  To  this  the  com- 
mander responded:  ''All  right;  let  them  come 
into  the  agency  in  half  an  hour."  The  chiefs 
acquiesced,  and  withdrew. 

Immediately  the  Indians  sent  mounted  mes- 
sengers at  speed  from  camp  to  camp,  summoning 
all  their  people  to  witness  the  act  of  fierce  self- 
doom;  and  soon  the  entire  tribe  of  Cheyennes, 
many  of  them  having  their  faces  blackened  in 
token  of  mourning,  moved  down  and  took  up  a 


In  Cowboy  Land  253 

position  on  the  hillside  close  to  the  agency.  At 
the  appointed  hour  both  young  men  appeared  in 
their  handsome  war  dress,  galloped  to  the  top  of 
the  hill  near  the  encampment,  and  deliberately 
opened  fire  on  the  troops.  The  latter  merely 
fired  a  few  shots  to  keep  the  young  desperadoes 
off,  while  Lieutenant  Pitcher  and  a  score  of 
cavalrymen  left  camp  to  make  a  circle  and  drive 
them  in;  they  did  not  wish  to  hurt  them,  but 
to  capture  them  and  give  them  over  to  the  In- 
dians, so  that  the  latter  might  be  forced  them- 
selves to  inflict  the  punishment.  However,  they 
were  unable  to  accomplish  their  purpose;  one  of 
the  young  braves  went  straight  at  them,  firing  his 
rifle  and  wounding  the  horse  of  one  of  the  cavalry- 
men, so  that,  simply  in  self-defence,  the  latter 
had  to  fire  a  volley,  which  laid  low  the  assailant ; 
the  other,  his  horse  having  been  shot,  was  killed 
in  the  brush,  fighting  to  the  last.  All  the  while, 
from  the  moment  the  two  doomed  braves  ap- 
peared until  they  fell,  the  Cheyennes  on  the  hill- 
side had  been  steadily  singing  the  death  chant. 
When  the  young  men  had  both  died,  and  had 
thus  averted  the  fate  which  their  misdeeds  would 
else  have  brought  upon  the  tribe,  the  warriors 
took  their  bodies  and  bore  them  away  for  burial 
honors,  the  soldiers  looking  on  in  silence.  Where 
the  slain  men  were  buried  the  whites  never  knew ; 
but  all  that  night  they  listened  to  the  dismal 


2  54         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

wailing  of  the  dirges  with  which  the  tribesmen 
celebrated  their  gloomy  funeral  rites. 

Frontiersmen  are  not,  as  a  rule,  apt  to  be  very 
superstitious.  They  lead  lives  too  hard  and  prac- 
tical, and  they  have  too  little  imagination  in  things 
spiritual  and  supernatural.  I  have  heard  but  few 
ghost  stories  while  living  on  the  frontier,  and  these 
few  were  of  a  perfectly  commonplace  and  conven- 
tional type. 

But  I  once  listened  to  a  goblin  story  which 
rather  impressed  me.  It  was  told  by  a  grizzled, 
weather-beaten  old  mountain  hunter,  named 
Bauman,  who  was  bom  and  had  passed  all  his 
life  on  the  frontier.  He  must  have  believed 
what  he  said,  for  he  could  hardly  repress  a  shud- 
der at  certain  points  of  the  tale;  but  he  was  of 
German  ancestry,  and  in  childhood  had  doubt- 
less been  saturated  with  all  kinds  of  ghost  and 
goblin  lore,  so  that  many  fearsome  superstitions 
were  latent  in  his  mind;  besides,  he  knew  well 
the  stories  told  by  the  Indian  medicine  men  in 
their  winter  camps,  of  the  snow- walkers,  and  the 
spectres,  and  the  formless  evil  beings  that  haunt 
the  forest  depths,  and  dog  and  waylay  the  lonely 
wanderer  who  after  nightfall  passes  through  the 
regions  where  they  lurk;  and  it  may  be  that 
when  overcome  by  the  horror  of  the  fate  that  be- 
fell his  friend,  and  when  oppressed  by  the  awful 
dread  of  the  unknown,  he  grew  to  attribute,  both 


In  Cowboy  Land  255 

at  the  time  and  still  more  in  remembrance,  weird  i  -f 

and  elfin  traits  to  what  was  merely  some  abnor-  ^ 

mally    wicked    and    cunning    wild    beast;     but 
whether  this  was  so  or  not,  no  man  can  say. 

When  the  event  occurred  Bauman  was  still  a 
young  man,  and  was  trapping  with  a  partner 
among  the  mountains  dividing  the  forks  of  the 
Salmon  from  the  head  of  Wisdom  River.  Not 
having  had  much  luck,  he  and  his  partner  deter- 
mined to  go  up  into  a  particularly  wild  and  lonely 
pass  through  which  ran  a  small  stream  said  to  con- 
tain many  beaver.  The  pass  had  an  evil  reputa- 
tion because  the  year  before  a  solitary  hunter  who 
had  wandered  into  it  was  there  slain,  seemingly  by 
a  wild  beast,  the  half -eaten  remains  being  after- 
wards found  by  some  mining  prospectors  who  had 
passed  his  camp  only  the  night  before. 

The  memory  of  this  event,  however,  weighed 
very  lightly  with  the  two  trappers,  who  were  as 
adventurous  and  hardy  as  others  of  their  kind. 
They  took  their  two  lean  mountain  ponies  to  the 
foot  of  the  pass,  where  they  left  them  in  an  open 
beaver  meadow,  the  rocky  timber-clad  ground 
being  from  thence  onwards  impracticable  for 
horses.  They  then  struck  out  on  foot  through  the 
vast,  gloomy  forest,  and  in  about  four  hours 
reached  a  little  open  glade  where  they  concluded 
to  camp,  as  signs  of  game  were  plenty. 

There  was  still  an  hour  or  two  of  daylight  left, 


256         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

and  after  building  a  brush  lean-to  and  throwing 
down  and  opening  their  packs,  they  started  up 
stream.  The  country  was  very  dense  and  hard  to 
travel  through,  as  there  was  much  down  timber, 
although  here  and  there  the  sombre  woodland  was 
broken  by  small  glades  of  mountain  grass. 

At  dusk  they  again  reached  camp.  The  glade 
in  which  it  was  pitched  was  not  many  yards  wide, 
the  tall,  close-set  pines  and  firs  rising  round  it  like 
a  wall.  On  one  side  was  a  little  stream,  beyond 
which  rose  the  steep  mountain-slopes,  covered 
with  the  unbroken  growth  of  the  evergreen  forest. 

They  were  surprised  to  find  that  during  their 
short  absence  something,  apparently  a  bear,  had 
visited  camp,  and  had  rummaged  about  among 
their  things,  scattering  the  contents  of  their  packs, 
and  in  sheer  wantonness  destroying  their  lean-to. 
The  footprints  of  the  beast  were  quite  plain,  but 
at  first  they  paid  no  particular  heed  to  them,  busy- 
ing themselves  with  rebuilding  the  lean-to,  laying 
out  their  beds  and  stores,  and  lighting  the  fire. 

While  Bauman  was  making  ready  supper,  it 
being  already  dark,  his  companion  began  to  ex- 
amine the  tracks  more  closely,  and  soon  took  a 
brand  from  the  fire  to  follow  them  up,  where  the 
intruder  had  walked  along  a  game  trail  after 
leaving  the  camp.  When  the  brand  flickered  out, 
he  returned  and  took  another,  repeating  his  in- 
spection of  the  footprints  very  closely.      Coming 


In  Cowboy  Land  257 

back  to  the  fire,  he  stood  by  it  a  minute  or  two, 
peering  out  into  the  darkness,  and  suddenly  re- 
marked: "Bauman,  that  bear  has  been  walking 
on  two  legs."  Bauman  laughed  at  this,  but  his 
partner  insisted  that  he  was  right,  and  upon  again 
examining  the  tracks  with  a  torch,  they  certainly 
did  seem  to  be  made  by  but  two  paws,  or  feet. 
However,  it  was  too  dark  to  make  sure.  After 
discussing  whether  the  footprints  could  possibly 
be  those  of  a  human  being,  and  coming  to  the 
conclusion  that  they  could  not  be,  the  two  men 
rolled  up  in  their  blankets,  and  went  to  sleep 
under  the  lean-to. 

At  midnight  Bauman  was  awakened  by  some 
noise,  and  sat  up  in  his  blankets.  As  he  did  so 
his  nostrils  were  struck  by  a  strong,  wild-beast 
odor,  and  he  caught  the  loom  of  a  great  body  in 
the  darkness  at  the  mouth  of  the  lean-to.  Grasp- 
ing his  rifle,  he  fired  at  the  vague,  threatening 
shadow,  but  must  have  missed,  for  immediately 
afterwards  he  heard  the  smashing  of  the  under- 
wood as  the  thing,  whatever  it  was,  rushed  off  into 
the  impenetrable  blackness  of  the  forest  and  the 
night. 

After  this  the  two  men  slept  but  little,  sitting  up 
by  the  rekindled  fire,  but  they  heard  nothing  more. 
In  the  morning  they  started  out  to  look  at  the  few 
traps  they  had  set  the  previous  evening  and  to  put 
out  new  ones.     By  an  unspoken  agreement  they 

VOL.   II. — 17 


258         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

kept  together  all  day,  and  returned  to  camp 
towards  evening. 

On  nearing  it  they  saw,  to  their  astonishment, 
that  the  lean-to  had  been  again  torn  down.  The 
visitor  of  the  preceding  day  had  returned,  and  in 
wanton  malice  had  tossed  about  their  camp  kit 
and  bedding,  and  destroyed  the  shanty.  The 
ground  was  marked  up  by  its  tracks,  and  on  leav- 
ing the  camp  it  had  gone  along  the  soft  earth  by 
the  brook,  where  the  footprints  were  as  plain  as  if 
on  snow,  and,  after  a  careful  scrutiny  of  the  trail, 
it  certainly  did  seem  as  if,  whatever  the  thing  was, 
it  had  walked  off  on  but  two  legs. 

The  men,  thoroughly  uneasy,  gathered  a  great 
heap  of  dead  logs,  and  kept  up  a  roaring  fire 
throughout  the  night,  one  or  the  other  sitting  on 
guard  most  of  the  time.  About  midnight  the 
thing  came  down  through  the  forest  opposite, 
across  the  brook,  and  stayed  there  on  the  hillside 
for  nearly  an  hour.  They  could  hear  the  branches 
crackle  as  it  moved  about,  and  several  times  it 
uttered  a  harsh,  grating,  long-drawn  moan,  a  pe- 
culiarly sinister  sound.  Yet  it  did  not  venture 
near  the  fire. 

In  the  morning  the  two  trappers,  after  discuss- 
ing the  strange  events  of  the  last  thirty-six  hours, 
decided  that  they  would  shoulder  their  packs  and 
leave  the  valley  that  afternoon.  They  were  the 
more  ready  to  do  this  because  in  spite  of  seeing  a 


In  Cowboy  Land  259 

good  deal  of  game  sign  they  had  caught  very  little 
fur.  However,  it  was  necessary  first  to  go  along 
the  line  of  their  traps  and  gather  them,  and  this 
they  started  out  to  do. 

All  the  morning  they  kept  together,  picking  up 
trap  after  trap,  each  one  empty.  On  first  leaving 
camp  they  had  the  disagreeable  sensation  of  being 
followed.  In  the  dense  spruce  thickets  they  occa- 
sionally heard  a  branch  snap  after  they  had  passed ; 
and  now  and  then  there  were  slight  rustling  noises 
among  the  small  pines  to  one  side  of  them. 

At  noon  they  were  back  within  a  couple  of 
miles  of  camp.  In  the  high,  bright  sunlight  their 
fears  seemed  absurd  to  the  two  armed  men,  ac- 
customed as  they  were,  through  long  years  of 
lonely  wandering  in  the  wilderness,  to  face  every 
kind  of  danger  from  man,  brute,  or  element. 
There  were  still  three  beaver  traps  to  collect  from 
a  little  pond  in  a  wide  ravine  near  by.  Bauman 
volunteered  to  gather  these  and  bring  them  in, 
while  his  companion  went  ahead  to  camp  and 
made  ready  the  packs. 

On  reaching  the  pond  Bauman  found  three 
beaver  in  the  traps,  one  of  which  had  been  pulled 
loose  and  carried  into  a  beaver  house.  He  took 
several  hours  in  securing  and  preparing  the  beaver, 
and  when  he  started  homewards  he  marked  with 
some  uneasiness  how  low  the  sun  was  getting.  As 
he  hurried  towards  camp,  under  the  tall  trees,  the 


26o         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

silence  and  desolation  of  the  forest  weighed  on  him. 
His  feet  made  no  sound  on  the  pine-needles,  and 
the  slanting  sun-rays,  striking  through  among  the 
straight  trunks,  made  a  gray  twilight  in  which 
objects  at  a  distance  glimmered  indistinctly. 
There  was  nothing  to  break  the  ghostly  stillness 
which,  when  there  is  no  breeze,  always  broods  over 
these  sombre  primeval  forests. 

At  last  he  came  to  the  edge  of  the  little  glade 
where  the  camp  lay,  and  shouted  as  he  approached 
it,  but  got  no  answer.  The  camp-fire  had  gone 
out,  though  the  thin  blue  smoke  was  still  curling 
upwards.  Near  it  lay  the  packs,  wrapped  and 
arranged.  At  first  Bauman  could  see  nobody; 
nor  did  he  receive  an  answer  to  his  call.  Stepping 
forward  he  again  shouted,  and  as  he  did  so  his  eye 
fell  on  the  body  of  his  friend,  stretched  beside  the 
trunk  of  a  great  fallen  spruce.  Rushing  towards 
it  the  horrified  trapper  found  that  the  body  was 
still  warm,  but  that  the  neck  was  broken,  while 
there  were  four  great  fang-marks  in  the  throat. 

The  footprints  of  the  unknown  beast-creature, 
printed  deep  in  the  soft  soil,  told  the  whole  story. 

The  unfortunate  man,  having  finished  his  pack- 
ing, had  sat  down  on  the  spruce  log  with  his  face  to 
the  fire,  and  his  back  to  the  dense  woods,  to  wait 
for  his  companion.  While  thus  waiting,  his  mon- 
strous assailant,  which  must  have  been  lurking 
nearby  in  the  woods,  waiting  for  a  chance  to  catch 


In  Cowboy  Land  261 

one  of  the  adventurers  unprepared,  came  silently 
up  from  behind,  walking  with  long,  noiseless  steps, 
and  seemingly  still  on  two  legs.  Evidently  un- 
heard, it  reached  the  man,  and  broke  his  neck  by 
wrenching  his  head  back  with  its  fore  paws,  while 
it  buried  its  teeth  in  his  throat.  It  had  not  eaten 
the  body,  but  apparently  had  romped  and  gam- 
bolled round  it  in  uncouth,  ferocious  glee,  occasion- 
ally rolling  over  and  over  it;  and  had  then  fled 
back  into  the  soundless  depths  of  the  woods. 

Bauman,  utterly  unnerved,  and  believing  that 
the  creature  with  which  he  had  to  deal  was  some- 
thing either  half  human  or  half  devil,  some  great 
goblin-beast,  abandoned  everything  but  his  rifle 
and  struck  off  at  speed  down  the  pass,  not  halting 
until  he  reached  the  beaver  meadows  where  the 
hobbled  ponies  were  still  grazing.  Mounting,  he 
rode  onwards  through  the  night,  until  far  beyond 
the  reach  of  pursuit. 


CHAPTER  X 

HUNTING    LORE 

IT  has  been  my  good  luck  to  kill  every  kind  of 
game  properly  belonging  to  the  United  States : 
though  one  beast  which  I  never  had  a  chance 
to  slay,  the  jaguar,  from  the  torrid  South,  some- 
times comes  just  across  the  Rio  Grande ;  nor  have 
I  ever  hunted  the  musk-ox  and  polar  bear  in  the 
boreal  wastes  where  they  dwell,  surrounded  by 
the  frozen  desolation  of  the  uttermost  North. 

I  have  never  sought  to  make  large  bags,  for  a 
hunter  should  not  be  a  game  butcher.  It  is 
always  lawful  to  kill  dangerous  or  noxious  ani- 
mals, like  the  bear,  cougar,  and  wolf;  but  other 
game  should  only  be  shot  when  there  is  need  of 
the  meat,  or  for  the  sake  of  an  unusually  fine 
trophy.  Killing  a  reasonable  number  of  bulls, 
bucks,  or  rams  does  no  harm  whatever  to  the" 
species;  to  slay  half  the  males  of  any  kind  of 
game  would  not  stop  the  natural  increase,  and 
they  yield  the  best  sport,  and  are  the  legitimate 
objects  of  the  chase.  Cows,  does,  and  ewes,  on 
the  contrary,  should  only  be  killed  (unless  barren) 
in  case  of  necessity;    during  my  last  five  years' 

262 


Hunting  Lore  263 

hunting  I  have  killed  but  five — one  by  a  mischance 
and  the  other  four  for  the  table. 

From  its  very  nature,  the  life  of  the  hunter  is 
in  most  places  evanescent ;  and  when  it  has  van- 
ished there  can  be  no  real  substitute  in  old  settled 
countries.  Shooting  in  a  private  game  preserve 
is  but  a  dismal  parody ;  the  manliest  and  health- 
iest features  of  the  sport  are  lost  with  the  change 
of  conditions.  We  need,  in  the  interest  of  the 
community  at  large,  a  rigid  system  of  game  laws 
rigidly  enforced,  and  it  is  not  only  admissible, 
but  one  may  say  almost  necessary,  to  establish, 
under  the  control  of  the  State,  great  national 
forest  reserves,  which  shall  also  be  breeding- 
grounds  and  nurseries  for  wild  game;  but  I 
should  much  regret  to  see  grow  up  in  this  country 
a  system  of  large  private  game  preserves,  kept 
for  the  enjoyment  of  the  very  rich.  One  of  the 
chief  attractions  of  the  life  of  the  wilderness  is  its 
rugged  and  stalwart  democracy ;  there  every  man 
stands  for  what  he  actually  is,  and  can  show  him- 
self to  be. 

There  are,  in  different  parts  of  our  country, 
chances  to  try  so  many  various  kinds  of  hunting, 
with  rifle  or  with  horse  and  hound,  that  it  is  nearly 
impossible  for  one  man  to  have  experience  of 
them  all.  There  are  many  hunts  I  have  long 
hoped  to  take,  but  never  did  and  never  shall; 
they  must  be  left  for  men  with  more  time,  or  for 


264         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

those  whose  homes  are  nearer  to  the  hunting- 
grounds.  I  have  never  seen  a  grisly  roped  by 
the  riders  of  the  plains,  nor  a  black  bear  killed 
with  the  knife  and  hounds  in  the  southern  cane- 
brakes  ;  though  at  one  time  I  had  for  many  years 
a  standing  invitation  to  witness  this  last  feat  on  a 
plantation  in  Arkansas.  The  friend  who  gave  it, 
an  old  backwoods  planter,  at  one  time  lost  almost 
all  his  hogs  by  the  numerous  bears  which  infested 
his  neighborhood.  He  took  a  grimly  humorous 
revenge  each  fall  by  doing  his  winter  killing  among 
the  bears  instead  of  among  the  hogs  they  had 
slain;  for  as  the  cold  weather  approached  he 
regularly  proceeded  to  lay  in  a  stock  of  bear- 
bacon,  scouring  the  canebrakes  in  a  series  of 
systematic  hunts,  bringing  the  quarry  to  bay 
with  the  help  of  a  big  pack  of  hard-fighting 
mongrels,  and  then  killing  it  with  his  long,  broad- 
bladed  bowie. 

Again,  I  should  like  to  make  a  trial  at  killing 
peccaries  with  the  spear,  whether  on  foot  or  on 
horseback,  and  with  or  without  dogs.  I  should 
like  much  to  repeat  the  experience  of  a  friend 
who  cruised  northward  through  Bering  Sea,  shoot- 
ing walrus  and  polar  bear ;  and  that  of  two  other 
friends  who  travelled  with  dog-sleds  to  the  Barren 
Grounds,  in  chase  of  the  caribou  and  of  that 
last  survivor  of  the  Ice  Age,  the  strange  musk- 
ox.     Once  in  a  while  it  must  be  good  sport  to 


Hunting  Lore  265 

shoot  alligators  by  torchlight  in  the  everglades  of 
Florida  or  the  bayous  of  Louisiana. 

If  the  big-game  hunter,  the  lover  of  the  rifle, 
has  a  taste  for  kindred  field  sports  with  rod  and 
shotgun,  many  are  his  chances  for  pleasure, 
though  perhaps  of  a  less  intense  kind.  The  wild 
turkey  really  deserves  a  place  beside  the  deer; 
to  kill  a  wary  old  gobbler  with  the  small-bore  rifle, 
by  fair  still-hunting,  is  a  triumph  for  the  best 
sportsman.  Swans,  geese,  and  sandhill  cranes  like- 
wise may  sometimes  be  killed  with  the  rifle;  but 
more  often  all  three,  save  perhaps  the  swan,  must 
be  shot  over  decoys.  Then  there  is  prairie-chick- 
en shooting  on  the  fertile  grain  prairies  of  the  mid- 
dle West,  from  Minnesota  to  Texas;  and  killing 
canvas-backs  from  behind  blinds,  with  the  help  of 
that  fearless  swimmer,  the  Chesapeake  Bay  dog. 
In  Californian  mountains  and  valleys  live  the 
beautiful  plumed  quails,  and  who  does  not  know 
their  cousin  bob-white,  the  bird  of  the  farm,  with 
his  cheery  voice  and  friendly  ways  ?  For  pure  fun, 
nothing  can  surpass  a  night  scramble  through  the 
woods  after  coon  and  possum. 

The  salmon,  whether  near  Puget  Sound  or  the 
St.  Lawrence,  is  the  royal  fish;  his  only  rival  is 
the  giant  of  the  warm  Gulf  waters,  the  silver- 
mailed  tarpon ;  while  along  the  Atlantic  coast  the 
great  striped  bass  likewise  yields  fine  sport  to 
the  men  of  rod  and  reel.     Every  hunter  of  the 


266  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

mountains  and  the  northern  woods  knows  the 
many  kinds  of  spotted  trout ;  for  the  black  bass  he 
cares  less ;  and  least  of  all  for  the  sluggish  pickerel 
and  his  big  brother  of  the  Great  Lakes,  the  mus- 
callonge. 

Yet  the  sport  yielded  by  rod  and  smooth-bore  is 
really  less  closely  kin  to  the  strong  pleasures  so 
beloved  by  the  hunter  who  trusts  in  horse  and 
rifle  than  are  certain  other  outdoor  pastimes,  of 
the  rougher  and  hardier  kind.  Such  a  pastime  is 
snow-shoeing,  whether  with  webbed  rackets,  in 
the  vast  northern  forests,  or  with  skees,  on  the 
bare  slopes  of  the  Rockies.  Such  is  mountaineer- 
ing, especially  when  joined  with  bold  exploration 
of  the  unknown.  Most  of  our  mountains  are  of 
rounded  shape,  and  though  climbing  them  is  often 
hard  work,  it  is  rarely  difficult  or  dangerous,  save 
in  bad  weather,  or  after  a  snowfall.  But  there  are 
many  of  which  this  is  not  true;  the  Tetons,  for 
instance,  and  various  glacier-bearing  peaks  in  the 
Northwest;  while  the  lofty,  snow-clad  ranges  of 
British  Columbia  and  Alaska  offer  one  of  the  finest 
fields  in  the  world  for  the  daring  cragsman.  Moun- 
taineering is  among  the  manliest  of  sports ;  and  it 
is  to  be  hoped  that  some  of  our  young  men  with  a 
taste  for  hard  work  and  adventure  among  the  high 
hills  will  attempt  the  conquest  of  these  great  un- 
trodden mountains  of  their  own  continent.  As 
with  all  pioneer  work,  there  would  be  far  more  dis- 


Hunting  Lore  267 

comfort  and  danger,  far  more  need  to  display  res- 
olution, hardihood,  and  wisdom  in  such  an  attempt 
than  in  any  expedition  on  well-known  and  his- 
toric ground  like  the  Swiss  Alps ;  but  the  victory 
would  be  a  hundred-fold  better  worth  winning. 

The  dweller  or  sojourner  in  the  wilderness  who 
most  keenly  loves  and  appreciates  his  wild  sur- 
roundings, and  all  their  sights  and  sounds,  is  the 
man  who  also  loves  and  appreciates  the  books 
which  tell  of  them. 

Foremost  of  all  American  writers  on  outdoor  life 
is  John  Burroughs;  and  I  can  scarcely  suppose 
that  any  man  who  cares  for  existence  outside  the 
cities  would  willingly  be  without  anything  that  he 
has  ever  written.  To  the  naturalist,  to  the  ob- 
server and  lover  of  nature,  he  is  of  course  worth 
many  times  more  than  any  closet  systematist ;  and 
though  he  has  not  been  very  much  in  really  wild 
regions,  his  pages  so  thrill  with  the  sights  and 
sounds  of  outdoor  life  that  nothing  by  any  writer 
who  is  a  mere  professional  scientist  or  a  mere  pro- 
fessional hunter  can  take  their  place,  or  do  more 
than  supplement  them — for  scientist  and  hunter 
alike  would  do  well  to  remember  that  before  a 
book  can  take  the  highest  rank  in  any  particular 
line  it  must  also  rank  high  in  literature  proper. 
Of  course,  for  us  Americans,  Burroughs  has  a  pe- 
culiar charm  that  he  cannot  have  for  others,  no 
matter  how  much  they,  too,  may  like  him;    for 


268  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

what  he  writes  of  is  our  own,  and  he  calls  to  our 
minds  memories  and  associations  that  are  very 
dear.  His  books  make  us  homesick  when  we  read 
them  in  foreign  lands;  for  they  spring  from  our 
soil  as  truly  as  Snowbound  or  The  Biglow  Papers.^ 

As  a  woodland  writer,  Thoreau  comes  second 
only  to  Burroughs. 

For  natural  history  in  the  narrower  sense  there 
are  still  no  better  books  than  Audubon  and  Bach- 
man's  Mammals  and  Audubon's  Birds.  There  are 
also  good  works  by  men  like  Coues  and  Bendire ; 
and  if  Hart  Merriam,  of  the  Smithsonian,  will  only 
do  for  the  mammals  of  the  United  States  what  he 
has  already  done  for  those  of  the  Adirondacks,  we 
shall  have  the  best  book  of  its  kind  in  existence. 
Nor,  among  less  technical  writings,  should  one 
overlook  such  essays  as  those  of  Maurice  Thompson 
and  Olive  Thorne  Miller. 

^  I  am  under  many  obligations  to  the  writings  of  Mr.  Bur- 
roughs (though  there  are  one  or  two  of  his  theories  from 
which  I  should  dissent) ;  and  there  is  a  piece  of  indebtedness 
in  this  very  volume  of  which  I  have  only  just  become  aware. 
In  my  chapter  on  the  prongbuck  there  is  a  paragraph  which 
will  at  once  suggest  to  any  lover  of  Burroughs  some  sentences 
in  his  essay  on  Birds  and  Poets.  I  did  not  notice  the  resem- 
blance until  happening  to  reread  the  essay  after  my  own 
chapter  was  written,  and  at  the  time  I  had  no  idea  that  I  was 
borrowing  from  anybody,  the  more  so  as  I  was  thinking 
purely  of  western  wilderness  life  and  western  wilderness  game, 
with  which  I  knew  Mr.  Burroughs  had  never  been  familiar. 
I  have  concluded  to  leave  the  paragraph  in  with  this  acknow- 
ledgment. 


Hunting  Lore  269 

There  have  been  many  American  hunting- 
books  ;  but  too  often  they  have  been  very  worth- 
less, even  when  the  writers  possessed  the  necessary 
first-hand  knowledge,  and  the  rare  capacity  of  see- 
ing the  truth.  Few  of  the  old-time  hunters  ever 
tried  to  write  of  what  they  had  seen  and  done; 
and  of  those  who  made  the  effort  fewer  still  suc- 
ceeded. Innate  refinement  and  the  literary  fac- 
ulty— that  is,  the  faculty  of  writing  a  thoroughly 
interesting  and  readable  book,  full  of  valuable  in- 
formation— may  exist  in  uneducated  people ;  but 
if  they  do  not,  no  amount  of  experience  in  the  field 
can  supply  their  lack.  However,  we  have  had 
some  good  works  on  the  chase  and  habits  of  big 
game,  such  as  Caton's  Deer  and  Antelope  of  Amer- 
ica, Van  Dyke's  Still-Hunter,  Elliott's  Carolina 
Sports,  and  Dodge's  Hunting  Grounds  of  the  Great 
West,  besides  the  Century  Company's  Sport  with 
Rod  and  Gun.  Then  there  is  Catlin's  book,  and 
the  journals  of  the  explorers  from  Lewis  and 
Clarke  down ;  and  occasional  volumes  on  outdoor 
life,  such  as  Theodore  Winthrop's  Canoe  and 
Saddle,  and  Clarence  King's  Mountaineering  in  the 
Sierra  Nevada. 

Two  or  three  of  the  great  writers  of  American 
literature,  notably  Parkman  in  his  Oregon  Trail 
and,  with  less  interest,  Irving  in  his  Trip  on  the 
Prairies,  have  written  with  power  and  charm  of 
life  in  the  American  wilderness;   but  no  one  has 


270         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

arisen  to  do  for  the  far  western  plainsmen  and 
Rocky  Mountain  trappers  quite  what  Hermann 
Melville  did  for  the  South  Sea  whaling  folk  in  Omoo 
and  Moby  Dick.  The  best  description  of  these 
old-time  dwellers  among  the  mountains  and  on  the 
plains  is  to  be  found  in  a  couple  of  good  volumes 
by  the  Englishman  Ruxton.  However,  the  back- 
woodsmen proper,  both  in  their  forest  homes  and 
when  they  first  began  to  venture  out  on  the  prairie, 
have  been  portrayed  by  a  master  hand.  In  a  suc- 
cession of  wonderfully  drawn  characters,  ranging 
from  *'  Aaron  Thousandacres  "  to  "  Ishmael  Bush," 
Fenimore  Cooper  has  preserved  for  always  the 
likenesses  of  these  stark  pioneer  settlers  and  back- 
woods hunters :  uncouth,  narrow,  hard,  suspicious, 
but  with  all  the  virile  virtues  of  a  young  and  mas- 
terful race,  a  race  of  mighty  breeders,  mighty 
fighters,  mighty  commonwealth-builders.  As  for 
Leatherstocking,  he  is  one  of  the  undying  men 
of  story:  grand,  simple,  kindly,  pure-minded, 
staunchly  loyal,  the  type  of  the  steel-t hewed  and 
iron- willed  hunter- warrior. 

Turning  from  the  men  of  fiction  to  the  men  of 
real  life,  it  is  worth  noting  how  many  of  the  leaders 
among  our  statesmen  and  soldiers  have  sought 
strength  and  pleasure  in  the  chase,  or  in  kindred 
vigorous  pastimes.  Of  course,  field  sports,  or  at 
least  the  wilder  kinds,  which  entail  the  exercise  of 
daring,  and  the  endurance  of  toil  and  hardship, 


Hunting  Lore  271 

and  which  lead  men  afar  into  the  forests  and  moun- 
tains, stand  above  athletic  exercises;  exactly  as 
among  the  latter,  rugged  outdoor  games,  like  foot- 
ball and  lacrosse,  are  much  superior  to  mere  gym- 
nastics and  calisthenics. 

With  a  few  exceptions  the  men  among  us  who 
have  stood  foremost  in  political  leadership,  like 
their  fellows  who  have  led  our  armies,  have  been 
of  stalwart  frame  and  sound  bodily  health.  When 
they  sprang  from  the  frontier  folk,  as  did  Lincoln 
and  Andrew  Jackson,  they  usually  hunted  much 
in  their  youth,  if  only  as  an  incident  in  the  pro- 
longed warfare  waged  by  themselves  and  their 
kinsmen  against  the  wild  forces  of  nature.  Old 
Israel  Putnam's  famous  wolf -killing  feat  comes 
strictly  under  this  head.  Doubtless  he  greatly 
enjoyed  the  excitement  of  the  adventure ;  but  he 
went  into  it  as  a  matter  of  business,  not  of  sport. 
The  wolf,  the  last  of  its  kind  in  his  neighborhood, 
had  taken  heavy  toll  of  the  flocks  of  himself  and 
his  friends;  when  they  found  the  deep  cave  in 
which  it  had  made  its  den  it  readily  beat  off  the 
dogs  sent  in  to  assail  it ;  and  so  Putnam  crept  in 
himself,  with  his  torch  and  his  flint-lock  musket, 
and  shot  the  beast  where  it  lay. 

When  such  men  lived  in  long-settled  and  thickly 
peopled  regions,  they  needs  had  to  accommodate 
themselves  to  the  conditions  and  put  up  with 
humbler  forms  of  sport.     Webster,  like  his  great 


272  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

rival  for  Whig  leadership,  Henry  Clay,  cared 
much  for  horses,  dogs,  and  guns;  but  though  an 
outdoor  man  he  had  no  chance  to  develop  a  love 
for  big-game  hunting.  He  was,  however,  very 
fond  of  the  rod  and  shotgun.  Mr.  Cabot  Lodge 
recently  handed  me  a  letter  written  to  his  grand- 
father by  Webster,  and  describing  a  day's  trout 
fishing.  It  may  be  worth  giving  for  the  sake  of 
the  writer,  and  because  of  the  fine  heartiness  and 
zest  in  enjoyment  which  it  shows : 

*'  Sandwich,  June  4, 

"Saturday  mor'g 

"6  o'clock 

"Dear  Sir: 

**  I  send  you  eight  or  nine  trout,  which  I  took 
yesterday,  in  that  chief  of  all  brooks,  Mashpee.  I 
made  a  long  day  of  it,  and  with  good  success,  for 
me.  John  was  with  me,  full  of  good  advice,  but 
did  not  fish — nor  carry  a  rod. 
I  took  26  trouts,  all  weighing  .  .  17  lb.  12  oz. 
The    largest    (you    have    him) 

weighed  at  Crokers       .         .         .      2  "     4  ** 
The  5  largest.  .         .         .         .      3  "     5  " 

The  eight  largest      .         .         .         .    11  *'     8  " 

" I  got  these  by  following  your  advice;  that  is, 
by  careful  &  thorough  fishing  of  the  difficult  places, 
which  others  do  not  fish.  The  brook  is  fished, 
nearly  every  day.  I  entered  it,  not  so  high  up  as 
we  sometimes  do,  between  7  &  8  o'clock,  &  at  12 


Hunting  Lore  273 

was  hardly  more  than  half  way  down  to  the  meet- 
ing-house path.  You  see  I  did  not  hurry.  The 
day  did  not  hold  out  to  fish  the  whole  brook  prop- 
erly. The  largest  trout  I  took  at  3  p.m.  (you  see 
I  am  precise)  below  the  meeting-house,  imder  a 
bush  on  the  right  bank,  two  or  three  rods  below  the 
large  beeches.  It  is  singular,  that  in  the  whole  day, 
I  did  not  take  two  t routs  out  of  the  same  hole.  I 
found  both  ends,  or  parts  of  the  Brook  about 
equally  productive.  Small  fish  not  plenty,  in 
either.  So  many  hooks  get  everything  which  is 
not  hid  away  in  the  manner  large  trouts  take  care 
of  themselves.  I  hooked  one,  which  I  suppose  to 
be  larger  than  any  which  I  took,  as  he  broke  my 
line,  by  fair  pulling,  after  I  had  pulled  him  out  of 
his  den,  &  was  playing  him  in  fair  open  water. 

"  Of  what  I  send  you,  I  pray  you  keep  what  you 
wish  yourself,  send  three  to  Mr.  Ticknor,  &  three 
to  Dr.  Warren;  or  two  of  the  larger  ones,  to  each 
will  perhaps  be  enough — &  if  there  be  any  left, 
there  is  Mr.  Callender  &  Mr.  Blake,  &  Mr.  Davis, 
either  of  them  not  '  averse  to  fish.'  Pray  let  Mr. 
Davis  see  them — especially  the  large  one. — As  he 
promised  to  come,  &  fell  back,  I  desire  to  excite 
his  regrets,  I  hope  you  will  have  the  large  one  on 
your  own  table. 

"The  day  was  fine — not  another  hook  in  the 
Brook.  John  steady  as  a  judge — and  everything 
else  exactly  right.     I  never,  on  the  whole,  had  so 

VOL.  II.— 18. 


2  74  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

agreeable  a  day's  fishing  tho'  the  result  in  pounds 
or  numbers,  is  not  great; — nor  ever  expect  such 
another. 

"Please  preserve  this  letter;  but  rehearse  not 
these  particulars  to  the  uninitiated. 

**I  think  the  Limerick  not  the  best  hook. 
Whether  it  pricks  too  soon,  or  for  what  other 
reason,  I  found,  or  thought  I  found,  the  fish  more 
likely  to  let  go  his  hold,  from  this,  than  from  the 
old-fashioned  hook. 

"Yrs. 

"D.  Webster. 

"H.  Cabot,  Esq." 

The  greatest  of  Americans,  Washington,  was 
very  fond  of  hunting,  both  with  rifle  or  fowling- 
piece,  and  especially  with  horse,  horn,  and  hound. 
Essentially  the  representative  of  all  that  is  best  in 
our  national  life,  standing  high  as  a  general,  high  as 
a  statesman,  and  highest  of  all  as  a  man,  he  could 
never  have  been  what  he  was  had  he  not  taken 
delight  in  feats  of  hardihood,  of  daring,  and  of 
bodily  prowess.  He  was  strongly  drawn  to  those 
field  sports  which  demand  in  their  follower  the 
exercise  of  the  manly  virtues — courage,  endurance, 
physical  address.  As  a  young  man,  clad  in  the 
distinctive  garb  of  the  backwoodsman,  the  fringed 
and  tasselled  hunting-shirt,  he  led  the  life  of  a 
frontier  surveyor ;  and  like  his  fellow  adventurers 


Hunting  Lore  275 

in  wilderness  exploration  and  Indian  campaigning, 
he  was  often  forced  to  trust  to  the  long  rifle  for 
keeping  his  party  in  food.  When  at  his  home,  at 
Mount  Vernon,  he  hunted  from  simple  delight  in 
the  sport. 

His  manuscript  diaries,  preserved  in  the  State 
Department  at  Washington,  are  full  of  entries  con- 
cerning his  feats  in  the  chase ;  almost  all  of  them 
naturally  falling  in  the  years  between  the  ending 
of  the  French  War  and  the  opening  of  the  Revolu- 
tionary struggle  against  the  British,  or  else  in  the 
period  separating  his  sen,dces  as  Commander-in- 
chief  of  the  Continental  armies  from  his  term  of 
office  as  President  of  the  Republic.  These  entries 
are  scattered  through  others  dealing  with  his 
daily  duties  in  overseeing  his  farm  and  mill,  his 
attendance  at  the  Virginia  House  of  Burgesses, 
his  journeys,  the  drill  of  the  local  militia,  and  all 
the  various  interests  of  his  many-sided  life.  Fond 
though  he  was  of  hunting,  he  was  wholly  incapable 
of  the  career  of  inanity  led  by  those  who  make 
sport,  not  a  manly  pastime,  but  the  one  serious 
business  of  their  lives. 

The  entries  in  the  diaries  are  short,  and  are 
couched  in  the  homely,  vigorous  English,  so  famil- 
iar to  the  readers  of  Washington's  journals  and 
private  letters.  Sometimes  they  are  brief  jottings 
in  reference  to  shooting  trips ;  such  as :  "  Rid  out 
with  my  gun  "  ;  ' '  went  pheasant  hunting  "  ; ' '  went 


276  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

ducking,"  and  ''went  a  gunning  up  the  Creek." 
But  far  more  often  they  are:  "  Rid  out  with  my 
hounds,"  "went  a  fox  hunting,"  or  "went  a  hunt- 
ing." In  their  perfect  simpHcity  and  good  faith 
they  are  strongly  characteristic  of  the  man.  He 
enters  his  blank  days  and  failures  as  conscientiously 
as  his  red-letter  days  of  success;  recording  with 
equal  care  on  one  day,  "  Fox  hunting  with  Captain 
Posey — catch  a  Fox,"  and  another,  "Went  a  hunt- 
ing with  Lord  Fairfax  .  .  .  cat  ched  nothing." 
Occasionally  he  began  as  early  as  August  and 
continued  until  April;  and  while  he  sometimes 
made  but  eight  or  ten  hunts  in  a  season,  at  others 
he  made  as  many  in  a  month.  Often  he  hunted 
from  Mount  Vernon,  going  out  once  or  twice  a 
week,  either  alone  or  with  a  party  of  his  friends 
and  neighbors ;  and  again  he  would  meet  with  these 
same  neighbors  at  one  of  their  houses,  and  devote 
several  days  solely  to  the  chase.  The  country  was 
still  very  wild,  and  now  and  then  game  was  en- 
countered with  which  the  fox-hounds  proved  un- 
able to  cope ;  as  witness  entries  like :  "  found  both 
a  Bear  and  a  Fox,  but  got  neither";  "went  a 
hunting  .  .  .  started  a  Deer  &  then  a  Fox 
but  got  neither" ;  and  "Went  a  hunting  and  after 
trailing  a  fox  a  good  while  the  Dogs  Raized  a  Deer 
&  ran  out  of  the  Neck  with  it  &  did  not  some  of 
them  at  least  come  home  till  the  next  day."  If  it 
was  a  small  animal,  however,  it  was  soon  ac- 


Hunting  Lore  277 

counted  for.  "  Went  a  Hunting  .  .  .  catched 
a  Rakoon  but  never  found  a  Fox." 

The  woods  were  so  dense  and  continuous  that 
it  was  often  impossible  for  the  riders  to  keep  close 
to  the  hounds  throughout  the  run ;  though  in  one 
or  two  of  the  best  covers,  as  the  journal  records, 
Washington  "directed  paths  to  be  cut  for  Fox 
Hunting."  This  thickness  of  the  timber  made  it 
difficult  to  keep  the  hounds  always  under  control ; 
and  there  are  frequent  allusions  to  their  going  off 
on  their  own  account,  as  "Joined  some  dogs  that 
were  self  hunting."  Sometimes  the  hounds  got  so 
far  away  that  it  was  impossible  to  tell  whether 
they  had  killed  or  not,  the  journal  remarking 
"catched  nothing  that  we  know  of,"  or  "found  a 
fox  at  the  head  of  the  blind  Pocoson  which  we 
suppose  was  killed  in  an  hour  but  could  not  find  it." 

Another  result  of  this  density  and  continuity  of 
cover  was  the  frequent  recurrence  of  days  of  ill 
success.  There  are  many  such  entries  as :  "  Went 
Fox  hunting,  but  started  nothing";  "Went  a 
hunting,  but  catched  nothing  "  ;  "  found  nothing ' ' ; 
"found  a  Fox  and  lost  it."  Often  failure  followed 
long  and  hard  runs :  "  Started  a  Fox,  run  him  four 
hours,  took  the  Hounds  off  at  night";  "found  a 
Fox  and  run  it  6  hours  and  then  lost "  ;  "  Went  a 
hunting  above  Darrells  .  .  .  found  a  fox  by 
two  Dogs  but  lost  it  upon  joining  the  Pack."  In 
the  season  of  1772-73  Washington  hunted  eighteen 


278  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

days  and  killed  nine  foxes ;  and  though  there  were 
seasons  when  he  was  out  much  more  often,  this 
proportion  of  kills  to  runs  was  if  anything  above 
the  average.  At  the  beginning  of  1768  he  met 
with  a  series  of  blank  days  which  might  well  have 
daunted  a  less  patient  and  persevering  hunter. 
In  January  and  the  early  part  of  February  he  was 
out  nine  times  without  getting  a  thing;  but  his 
diary  does  not  contain  a  word  of  disappointment 
or  surprise,  each  successive  piece  of  ill  luck  being 
entered  without  comment,  even  when  one  day  he 
met  some  more  fortunate  friends  ''who  had  just 
catched  2  foxes."  At  last,  on  February  12th,  he 
himself  "  catched  two  foxes  "  ;  the  six  or  eight  gen- 
tlemen of  the  neighborhood  who  made  up  the  field 
all  went  home  with  him  to  Mount  Vernon,  to  dine 
and  pass  the  night,  and  in  the  hunt  of  the  following 
day  they  repeated  the  feat  of  a  double  score.  In 
the  next  seven  days'  hunting  he  killed  four  times. 
The  runs  of  course  varied  greatly  in  length ;  on 
one  day  he  ''found  a  bitch  fox  at  Piney  Branch 
and  killed  it  in  an  hour" ;  on  another  he  "  killed  a 
Dog  fox  after  having  him  on  foot  three  hours  & 
hard  running  an  hour  and  a  qr."  ;  and  on  yet  an- 
other he  "catched  a  fox  with  a  bobd  Tail  &  cut 
ears  after  7  hours  chase  in  which  most  of  the  Dogs 
were  worsted."  Sometimes  he  caught  his  fox  in 
thirty-five  minutes,  and  again  he  might  run  it 
nearly  the  whole  day  in  vain;    the  average  run 


Hunting  Lore  279 

seems  to  have  been  from  an  hour  and  a  half  to 
three  hours.  Sometimes  the  entry  records  merely 
the  barren  fact  of  the  run;  at  others  a  few  par- 
ticulars are  given,  with  homespun,  telling  direct- 
ness, as:  "  Went  a  hunting  with  Jacky  Custis  and 
catched  a  Bitch  Fox  after  three  hours  chace — 
founded  it  on  ye.  ck.  by  I.  Soals  "  ;  or  "  went  a  Fox 
hunting  with  Lund  Washington — took  the  drag 
of  a  fox  by  Isaac  Gates  &  carrd.  it  tolerably  well 
to  the  old  Glebe  then  touched  now  and  then  upon 
a  cold  scent  till  we  came  into  Col.  Fairfaxes  Neck 
where  we  found  about  half  after  three  upon  the 
Hills  just  above  Accotinck  Creek — after  running 
till  quite  Dark  took  off  the  Dogs  and  came  home." 
The  foxes  were  doubtless  mostly  of  the  gray 
kind,  and  besides  going  to  holes  they  treed  readily. 
In  January,  1770,  he  was  out  seven  days,  killing 
four  foxes ;  and  two  of  the  entries  in  the  journal  re- 
late to  foxes  which  treed;  one,  on  the  loth,  being: 
"  I  went  a  hunting  in  the  Neck  and  visited  the 
plantn.  there  found  and  killed  a  bitch  fox  after 
treeing  it  3  t.  chasg.  it  abt.  3  hrs.,"  and  the  other 
on  the  23d:  "Went  a  hunting  after  breakfast  & 
f  oimd  a  Fox  at  muddy  hole  &  killed  her  (it  being  a 
bitch)  after  a  chase  of  better  than  two  hours  and 
after  treeing  her  twice  the  last  of  which  times  she 
fell  dead  out  of  the  Tree  after  being  therein  sevl. 
minutes  apparently."  In  April,  1769,  he  hunted 
four  days,  and  on  every  occasion  the  fox  treed. 


28o  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

April  7th,  "Dog  fox  killed,  ran  an  hour  &  treed 
twice."  April  nth,  "Went  a  fox  hunting  and 
took  a  fox  alive  after  running  him  to  a  Tree — 
brot  him  home."  April  12th,  'Xhased  the  above 
fox  an  hour  &  45  minutes  when  he  treed  again 
after  which  we  lost  him."  April  13th,  ''Killed  a 
dog  fox  after  treeing  him  in  35  minutes." 

Washington  continued  his  fox-hunting  until,  in 
the  spring  of  1775,  the  guns  of  the  minute-men  in 
Massachusetts  called  him  to  the  command  of  the 
Revolutionary  soldiery.  When  the  eight  weary 
years  of  campaigning  were  over,  he  said  good-by  to 
the  war-worn  veterans  whom  he  had  led  through 
defeat  and  disaster  to  ultimate  triumph,  and  be- 
came once  more  the  Virginian  country  gentleman. 
Then  he  took  up  his  fox-hunting  with  as  much  zest 
as  ever.  The  entries  in  his  journal  are  now  rather 
longer,  and  go  more  into  detail  than  formerly. 
Thus,  on  December  12th,  1785,  he  writes  that 
after  an  early  breakfast  he  went  on  a  hunt  and 
found  a  fox  at  half  after  ten,  "being  first  plagued 
with  the  dogs  running  hogs,"  followed  on  his  drag 
for  some  time,  then  ran  him  hard  for  an  hour, 
when  there  came  a  fault;  but  when  four  dogs 
which  had  been  thrown  out  rejoined  the  pack 
they  put  the  fox  up  afresh,  and  after  fifty 
minutes'  run  killed  him  in  an  open  field,  "every 
Rider  &  every  Dog  being  present  at  the  Death." 
With  his  usual  alternations  between  days  like  this, 


Hunting  Lore  281 

and  days  of  ill-luck,  he  hunted  steadily  every  sea- 
son until  his  term  of  private  life  again  drew  to  a 
close  and  he  was  called  to  the  headship  of  the 
nation  he  had  so  largely  helped  to  found. 

In  a  certain  kind  of  fox-hunting  lore  there  is 
much  reference  to  a  Warwickshire  squire  who, 
when  the  Parliamentary  and  Royalist  armies  were 
forming  for  the  battle  at  Edgehill,  was  discovered 
between  the  hostile  lines,  unmovedly  drawing  the 
covers  for  a  fox.  Now,  this  placid  sportsman 
should  by  rights  have  been  slain  off-hand  by  the 
first  trooper  who  reached  him,  whether  Cavalier  or 
Roundhead.  He  had  mistaken  means  for  ends, 
he  had  confounded  the  healthful  play  which  should 
fit  a  man  for  needful  work  with  the  work  itself ;  and 
mistakes  of  this  kind  are  sometimes  criminal. 
Hardy  sports  of  the  field  offer  the  best  possible 
training  for  war;  but  they  become  contemptible 
when  indulged  in  while  the  nation  is  at  death-grips 
with  her  enemies. 

It  was  not  in  Washington's  strong  nature  to 
make  such  an  error.  Nor  yet,  on  the  other  hand, 
was  he  likely  to  undervalue  either  the  pleasure,  or 
the  real  worth  of  outdoor  sports.  The  qualities  of 
heart,  mind,  and  body,  which  made  him  delight  in 
the  hunting-field,  and  which  he  there  exercised 
and  developed,  stood  him  in  good  stead  in  many  a 
long  campaign  and  on  many  a  stricken  field ;  they 
helped  to  build  that  stern  capacity  for  leadership 


282         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

in  war  which  he  showed  ahke  through  the  bitter 
woe  of  the  winter  at  Valley  Forge,  on  the  night 
when  he  ferried  his  men  across  the  half -frozen  Del- 
aware to  the  overthrow  of  the  German  mercenaries 
at  Trenton,  and  in  the  brilliant  feat  of  arms  where- 
of the  outcome  was  the  decisive  victory  of  York- 
town. 


APPENDIX 

IN  these  volumes  I  have  avoided  repeating 
what  was  contained  in  my  former  books,  the 
Hunting  Trips  of  a  Ranchman.  For  many  de- 
tails of  life  and  work  in  the  cattle  country  I  must 
refer  the  reader  to  these  two  volumes ;  and  also  for 
more  full  accounts  of  the  habits  and  methods  of 
hunting  such  game  as  deer  and  antelope.  As  far 
as  I  know,  the  description  in  my  Hunting  Trips 
of  the  habits  and  the  chase  of  the  mountain  sheep 
is  the  only  moderately  complete  account  thereof 
that  has  ever  been  published. 

There  have  been  many  changes,  both  in  my  old 
hunting-grounds  and  my  old  hunting  friends,  since 
I  first  followed  the  chase  in  the  far  western  coun- 
try. Where  the  buffalo  and  the  Indian  ranged, 
along  the  Little  Missouri,  the  branded  herds  of  the 
ranchmen  now  graze ;  the  scene  of  my  elk-hunt  at 
Two-Ocean  Pass  is  now  part  of  the  National  Forest 
Reserve;  settlers  and  miners  have  invaded  the 
ground  where  I  killed  bear  and  moose ;  and  steam- 
ers ply  on  the  lonely  waters  of  Kootenai  Lake.  Of 
my  hunting  companions  some  are  alive ;  others — 
among  them  my  staunch  and  valued  friend  Will 
Dow,  and  crabbed,  surly  old  Hank  Griffin — are 

283 


284  The  Wilderness  Hunter 

dead;  while  yet  others  have  drifted  away,  and  I 
know  not  what  has  become  of  them. 

I  have  made  no  effort  to  indicate  the  best  kind 
of  camp  kit  for  hunting,  for  the  excellent  reason 
that  it  depends  so  much  upon  the  kind  of  trip 
taken,  and  upon  the  circumstances  of  the  person 
taking  it.  The  hunting  trip  may  be  made  with  a 
pack-train,  or  with  a  wagon,  or  with  a  canoe,  or  on 
foot;  and  the  hunter  may  have  half  a  dozen  at- 
tendants, or  he  may  go  absolutely  alone.  I  have 
myself  made  trips  under  all  of  these  circumstances. 
At  times  I  have  gone  with  two  or  three  men,  sev- 
eral tents,  and  an  elaborate  apparatus  for  cooking, 
cases  of  canned  goods,  and  the  like.  On  the  other 
hand,  I  have  made  trips  on  horseback,  with  noth- 
ing whatsoever  beyond  what  I  had  on,  save  my 
oilskin  slicker,  a  metal  cup,  and  some  hardtack, 
tea,  and  salt  in  the  saddle  pockets;  and  I  have 
gone  for  a  week  or  two's  journey  on  foot,  carrying 
on  my  shoulders  my  blanket,  a  frying-pan,  some 
salt,  a  little  flour,  a  small  chunk  of  bacon,  and  a 
hatchet.  So  it  is  with  dress.  The  clothes  should 
be  stout,  of  a  neutral  tint ;  the  hat  should  be  soft, 
without  too  large  a  brim;  the  shoes  heavy,  and 
the  soles  studded  with  small  nails,  save  when  moc- 
casins or  rubber-soled  shoes  are  worn ;  but  within 
these  limits  there  is  room  for  plenty  of  variation. 
Avoid,  however,  the  so-called  deer-stalker's  cap, 
which  is  an  abomination ;  its  peaked  brim  giving 


Appendix  285 

no  protection  whatsoever  to  the  eyes  when  facing 
the  sun  quartering,  a  position  in  which  many  shots 
must  be  taken.  In  very  cold  regions,  fur  coats, 
caps,  and  mittens,  and  all-wool  underclothing  are 
necessary.  I  dislike  rubber  boots  when  they  can 
possibly  be  avoided.  In  hunting  in  snow  in  the 
winter  I  use  the  so-called  German  socks  and  felt 
overshoes  where  possible.  One  winter  I  had  an 
ermine  cap  made.  It  was  very  good  for  peeping 
over  the  snowy  ridge  crests  when  game  was  on  the 
other  side ;  but,  except  when  the  entire  landscape 
was  snow-covered,  it  was  an  unmitigated  nuisance. 
In  winter,  webbed  snow-shoes  are  used  in  the 
thick  woods,  and  skees  in  the  open  country. 

There  is  an  endless  variety  of  opinion  about 
rifles,  and  all  that  can  be  said  with  certainty  is 
that  any  good  modern  rifle  will  do.  It  is  the  man 
behind  the  rifle  that  counts,  after  the  weapon  has 
reached  a  certain  stage  of  perfection.  One  of  my 
friends  invariably  uses  an  old  Government  Spring- 
field, a  45-calibre,  with  an  ounce  bullet.  Another 
cares  for  nothing  but  the  40-90  Sharp's,  a  weapon 
for  which  I  myself  have  much  partiality.  Another 
uses  always  the  old  45-calibre  Sharp's,  and  yet  an- 
other the  45-calibre  Remington.  Two  of  the  best 
bear-  and  elk-hunters  I  know  prefer  the  32-  and  ^S- 
calibre  Marlin's,  with  long  cartridges,  weapons 
with  which  I  myself  would  not  undertake  to  pro- 
duce any  good  results.     Yet  others  prefer  pieces 


286         The  Wilderness  Hunter 

of  very  large  calibre.  The  amount  of  it  is  that 
each  one  of  these  giins  possesses  some  excellence 
which  the  others  lack,  but  which  is  in  most  cases 
atoned  for  by  some  corresponding  defect.  Sim- 
plicity of  mechanism  is  very  important,  but  so  is 
rapidity  of  fire ;  and  it  is  hard  to  get  both  of  them 
developed  to  the  highest  degree  in  the  same  piece. 
In  the  same  way,  flatness  of  trajectory,  penetra- 
tion, range,  shock,  and  accuracy  are  all  qualities 
which  must  be  attained ;  but  to  get  one  in  perfec- 
tion usually  means  the  sacrifice  of  some  of  the  rest. 
For  instance,  other  things  being  equal,  the  smallest 
calibre  has  the  greatest  penetration,  but  gives  the 
least  shock;  while  a  very  flat  trajectory,  if  ac- 
quired by  heavy  charges  of  powder,  means  the 
sacrifice  of  accuracy.  Similarly,  solid  and  hollow 
pointed  bullets  have,  respectively,  their  merits  and 
demerits.  There  is  no  use  of  dogmatizing  about 
weapons.  Some  which  prove  excellent  for  par- 
ticular countries  and  kinds  of  hunting  are  useless 
in  others. 

There  seems  to  be  no  doubt,  judging  from  the 
testimony  of  sportsmen  in  South  Africa  and  in 
India,  that  very  heavy  calibre  double-barrelled 
rifles  are  best  for  use  in  the  dense  jungles  and 
against  the  thick-hided  game  of  those  regions ;  but 
they  are  of  very  little  value  with  us.  In  1 88  2  one  of 
the  buffalo-hunters  on  the  Little  Missouri  obtained 
from  some  Englishman  a  double-barrelled  ten- 


Appendix  287 

bore  rifle  of  the  kind  used  against  rhinoceros,  buf- 
falo, and  elephant  in  the  Old  World ;  but  it  proved 
very  inferior  to  the  40-  and  45 -calibre  Sharp's  buf- 
falo guns  when  used  under  the  conditions  of 
American  buffalo-hunting,  the  tremendous  shock 
given  by  the  bullet  not  compensating  for  the  gun's 
great  relative  deficiency  in  range  and  accuracy, 
while  even  the  penetration  was  inferior  at  ordinary 
distances.  It  is  largely  also  a  matter  of  individ- 
ual taste.  At  one  time  I  possessed  a  very  expen- 
sive double-barrelled  500  Express,  by  one  of  the 
crack  English  makers ;  but  I  never  liked  the  gun, 
and  could  not  do  as  well  with  it  as  with  my  re- 
peater, which  cost  barely  a  sixth  as  much.  So 
one  day  I  handed  it  to  a  Scotch  friend,  who  was 
manifestly  ill  at  ease  with  a  Winchester  exactly 
like  my  own.  He  took  to  the  double-barrel  as 
naturally  as  I  did  to  the  repeater,  and  did  excel- 
lent work  with  it.  Personally,  I  have  always  pre- 
ferred the  Winchester.  I  now  use  a  45-90,  with 
my  old  buffalo  gim,  a  40-90  Sharp's,  as  spare 
rifie.  Both,  of  course,  have  specially  tested  bar- 
rels, and  are  stocked  and  sighted  to  suit  myself. 


INDEX 


Accidents,  to  the  ranch- 
wagon,  i.,  54;  to  cowboys, 
ii-,  237 

Americans  in  the  wilderness, 

i-.  52 

American,  the,  wilderness,  i., 
i;   hunting-books,  ii.,  269 

Ammal,i.,  155,  158,  161,  163, 
164;  superstition  of,  i.,  171 

Animals,  legitimate  killing  of, 
ii.,  262 

Antelope,  i.,  5,  20,  67,  73; 
enemies  of,  i.,  86;  curiosity 
of,  i.,  87 ;  winter  haunts  of, 
i.,  89 ;  characteristics  of ,  i., 
112 

Army,  the  regular,  and  hunt- 
ing, i.,  15 

Bad  Lands,  view  of  the,  i.,  ^^ 
Battle  Ground,  i.,  132 
Bauman's   goblin    story,    ii., 

254 

Bear,  the  black,  i.,  20; 
charged  by  a,  i.  163 ;  shoot- 
ing a,  i.,  164;  where  found, 
ii.,  31;  hunted  with  dogs, 
ii-,  32,  33}  trapping,  ii.,  38; 
food  of,  ii.,  39;  size  of,  ii., 
41,  43,  44;  species  of,  ii., 
42;  old  hunters  on,  ii,,  44; 
cattle-killing  by,  ii.,  52; 
prey  on  each  other,  ii.,  60 

Bear,  the  grisly,  i.,  21,  ii.,  42; 
size  of,  ii.,  47 ;  habits  of,  ii., 
48;  fond  of  fish,  ii.,  62;  food 
of,  ii.,  62;    haunts  of,  ii., 


66;  rutting  season,  ii.,  68; 
cuIds,  ii.,  68;  hunting  with 
dogs,  ii.,  72;  stalking,  ii., 
77  ;  hunting,  ii.,  80;  charged 
by,  ii.,  91 ;  a  dangerous  an- 
tagonist, ii.,  93;  ways  of 
fighting,  ii.,  102 

Bears,  modes  of  hunting,  ii., 
69;  shooting  trapped,  ii., 
71;  attacks  by,  ii.,  117- 
122;   lassoing,  ii.,  124 

Bear- trapper,  danger  to,  ii., 
72 

Beaver  Dick,  i.,  216 

Big  Hole  Basin,  climate  of,  i., 

.133 

Bighorn,  or  mountain  sheep, 
i.,  20,  58;  tracks  of  the,  i., 
122;  of  the  Bad  Lands,  i., 
122;  rutting  season  of,  i., 
123;  haunts  of,  i.,  123;  re- 
quirements of  a  hunter  of 
the,  i.,  123;  stalking,  i., 
126-128;  wariness  of,  i., 
129 

Bison,  tracking  a  band  of,  ii., 
25;    shooting  a  bull,  ii.,  29 

Boon,  Daniel,  i.,  6,  7 

Branding  cattle,  i.,  30 

Bucker,  a  bad,  i.,  49 

Buffalo,  the  American,  last 
herd  of,  i.,  13,  15,  16;  vast 
herds  of,  ii.,  i;  slaughter 
of,  ii.,  2;  stalking,  ii.,  13; 
stampede  of,  ii.,  14;  charge 
of,  ii.,  17;  mountain,  ii.,  22 

Buffalo  Bill's  cowboys,  ii.,182 


289 


290 


Index 


Buffalo  hunt  of  Elliott  Roose- 
velt, ii.,  3 

Buffaloes,  Gen.  W.  H. 
Walker's  experience  with, 
ii.,  19 

Burroughs,  John,  ii.,  267 

Bull-dog  flies,  i.,  135 


Calf- wrestlers,  i.,  31 
California  Joe,  ii.,  109 
Camp,  gossip  of  a,  i.,  69;   re- 
turning to,  i.,  178 
Camping  out,  i.,  57 
Camp-kit,  a  good,  i.,  212 
"Calling,"  hunting  by,  i.,  258 
Caribou,  the  woodland,  i.,  18; 
signs  of  the,  i.,  174;   tracks 
of  the,  i.,  175;    shooting  a, 
i.,   177;    the  author's  first 
hunt     for,     i.,     180;      the 
habits  of,  i.,  183;  hide  of, 
i-.  253 
Carson,  Kit,  i.,  11 
Cattle,  guarding  of,  at  night, 
i.,  69;    branding  of,  i.,  30; 
killing  by  bears,  ii.,  51,  52; 
the  pursuit  of  wild,  ii.,  145 
Cheyenne   Indians,  death  of 

two,  ii.,  252,  253 
Chickaree,  the,  i.,  204 
Chipmunk,  the,  i.,  204 
"Circle  riding,"  i.,  72 
Clark,  George  Rogers,  i.,  8 
Clay,  Col.  Cecil,  i.,  260 
Cock,  the  chaparral,  ii.,  144 
Columbian,  blacktail,  the,  i., 

63;  haunts  of,  i.,  64 
Cougar,  the,  i.,  20;  difficulty 
in  hunting,  ii. ,  128;  should 
be  hunted  with  dogs,  ii., 
131;  habits  of,  ii.,  135, 
137;  haunts  of,  ii.,  137; 
seldom  attacks  man,  ii., 
138;  cases  of  attacks  on 
man,  ii.,  140;  Trescott  on, 
ii.,  142 


Cowboys,  dress  of,  i.,  68,  69; 
salutation  of,  i.,  69;  gen- 
eral character  of,  ii.,  220; 
accidents  to,  ii.,  238 

Cowley,  Mr.,  ii.,  163,  164 

Coyote,  see  Wolf 

Crockett,  Davy,  i.,  9 

Crow,  Clark's,  i.,  204;  In- 
dians, ii.,  247,  248 

"Crusting,"  i.,  266 

"Cut,"  the,  i.,  30 

Deer,  the  whitetail,  i.,  19,  44, 
60,  63;  the  blacktail,  or 
mule,  i.,  19,  34-38,  39.  41; 
tracksof,  i.,  19;  lying  close 

i;,  37; 

European  red,  i.,  201 
Desert  region,  i.,  2,  3 
Dow,  George,  ii.,  100 
Dow,  Will,  i.,  198 
Dugout,  a  night  at  a,  i.,  94 


Eagle,  the  war,  i.,  83-86 

Edwards,  Captain  Frank,  ii., 
247,  248 

Elk,  venison  as  a  diet,  i.,  207; 
the  smell  of,  i.,  225;  stalk- 
ing a  bull  elk,  i.,  226;  hint 
on  shooting,  i.,  227;  a 
giant,  i.,  227 

Elk-hunting  the  most  at- 
tractive of  sports,  i.,  239 

Elk- trails,  peculiarity  of,  i., 
224 

Emigrant  train,  an,  i.,  96 

Famine,  a  meat,  i.,  40 
Fare,  the,  at  the  ranch-house, 

i.,  24 
Farmers,  the  frontier,  i.,  14 
Ferguson,  Robert  Munro,  i., 

40,  57,  98,  209,  228 
Ferret,  the  plains,  i.,  82 
Ferris,  Sylvane,  i.,  42,  57,  58 


Index 


291 


"Filemaker,"jump  of.ii.,  173 
Fire,  a  prairie,  i,,  98-104 
Fire  hunting,  i.,  45 
Fisher,  the,  i.,  204 
Fool-hen,    the,    see    Grouse, 

spruce 
Forest,  sounds  in  the,  i.,  172 
Fowl,  sage-,  i.,  132 
Fox-hunting  as  a  sport,  ii., 

Frio,  a  ranch  on  the,  n.,  143 
Frontiersmen    not    supersti- 
tious, ii.,  254 


Game  found  in  American 
wilderness,  i.,  4;  a  com- 
parison of,  i.,  200;  game 
country,  i.,  209 

Goat-herder,  a  Mexican,  ii.. 

Goat,  the  white,  i.,  20,  131; 
shooting   a,   i.,    141,    146; 
flavor  of,  i.,  147;  modes  of 
hunting,  i.,  148;   stupidity 
of,  i,,  148;    appearance  of, 
i.,  149;    habits  of,  i.,  150; 
not  decreasing  in  numbers, 
i.,    152;   an  easy  prey,  i., 
152;  hauntsof,  i.,  153,  154 
Goblin  story,  a,  ii.,  254 
Griffin,  Hank,  i.,  244;   ii.,  88 
Grouse,  spruce,  i.,  137;    ruf- 
fled, i.,  138;   snow,  i.,  147 


Hampton,  General  Wade,  a 

bear  killer,  ii.,  34,  204 
Herbert,  Mr.  H.  L.,  ii.,  173 
Hofer,  Elwood,  i.,  211 ;  ii.,  61 
Hornaday,  Mr.,i,,  260;  ii.,  24 
Horses,  driving  loose,  i.,  66 
Hounds,  not  used  by  early 
hunters,  ii.,  158;   the  grey- 
hound,   ii.,     160;     scratch 
packs  of,  ii.,  161;    hunting 
with,  ii.,  161;  Colonel  Wil- 


liams's pack  of,  ii.,  165; 
Wadsworth's  hounds,  ii., 
167;  a  run  with,  ii.,  168; 
Meadowbrook,  ii.,  172; 
Russian  wolf-,  ii.,  217 

Houston,  General  Sam,  i.,  9, 
10 

Hunter,  an  old,  i.,  90-93;  re- 
quirements of  a  wilderness, 
i.,  22;  the  real,  i.,  210; 
dress,  ii.,  284 

Hunters',  old,  opinions  on 
bears,  ii.,  42-44 

Hunting-ground,  the  finest, 
i.,  21;  hunting  on  the 
Little  Missouri,  i.,  21 

Hunting,  from  the  ranch- 
house,  i.,  36;  on  foot,  i., 
36;  with  trackhounds,  i., 
47;  trip,  duration  of  a,  i., 
55;  the  pronghorn,  i.,  87, 
95 ;  trip  to  the  antelope 
winter  haunts,  i.,  90,  94; 
trip,  provisions  on  a,i.,  120; 
hardships  met  with  in,  i., 
135;  modes  of,  bears,  ii., 
69;   retrospect,  i.,  237 

Indians  catching  eagles,  i.,  86 

Jackson's,  General  "Red," 
encounter  with  a  grisly,  ii,, 
126 

Javalina,  see  Peccary 

Jones,  Colonel  James,  i.,  260 

Kentucky,  the  settlement  of, 

i-'  7 
King,  Clarence,  11.,  21,  54 

Kootenai  Lake,  i.,  155 ;  camp- 
ing by,  i.,  156 

Lamoche's,  Baptiste,  adven- 
ture with  a  bear,  ii.,  119 
Landscape,  a  dreary,  i.,  67 


292 


Index 


Lark,    meadow,    i.,    76,    77; 

plains,  i.,  76 
"Latigo   Strap,"   i.,   69,   70, 

72 
Lavishness  of  nature  on  the 

Pacific  slope,  i.,  5,  6 
Laws,  game,  needed,  ii.,  263 
Letter  from  an  old  hunter,  ii,. 

234 
Lewis'woodpecker,the,i.,205 
Little  Missouri,  hunting  on, 

i.,2i;  wapiti  on  the,  i.,  197 
Lucivee,  the,  i.,  202;   food  of 

the,  i.,   202;    easily  killed 

with  dogs,  i.,  202 
Lynx,  northern,  see  Lucivee 


Marcy,  General,  ii.,  203 
Maverick  bulls,  i.,  31;   lasso- 
ing of,  i.,  32 
McMaster,  Prof.  J.  Bache,  i., 

129 
Meadowbrook  hounds,  hunt- 
ing with,  ii.,  172 
Merriam,  Dr.  Hart,  ii.,  41 
Merrill,  Dr.  James  C,  ii.,  97 
Mexican  wild  hog,  see  Pec- 
cary 
Miller's  fight  with  a  bear,  ii., 

109 
Mocking-bird,  the,  i.,  78,  79; 

ii.,  144 
Moore,  Mr.  John,  ii.,  143 
Moose-bird,  the,  see  Whisky- 
jack 
Moose,  the,  i.,   17;    giant  of 
deer,  i.,  240;   haunts  of,  i., 
241,253;   fruitless  hunting 
of,  i.,  243;    stalking  a  bull 
moose,  i.,  244;    footprints 
of,  i.,  249;  flesh  of,  i.,  253; 
hide,  i.,  253;  not  found  in 
herds,  i.,  255;    food  of,  i., 
255;   easily  tamed,  i.,  256; 
bulls    during    the    rut,    i., 
256;    able  to  defend  itself, 


i->  257;  gait  of,  i.,  260;  will 
attack  a  hunter,  i.,  261 
Mountain  buffalo,  ii.,  22 
Mountain      ptarmigan,      see 
Grouse,  snow 

Nicknames,  ii.,  233 
Nightingale,  the,  i.,  78 
Nut-pine,  northern,  i.,  225 

"Old    Ephraim,"   see    Bear, 

grisly 
Old  Ike,  killed  by  a  bear,  ii., 

105,  106 
"Old  Manitou,"  i.,  120,  124 
OX,  the,  a  steer  outfit,  i.,  25, 

28 


Pack-animals ,  hunters' ,  i . , 
211;   perversity  of,  i.,  213 

Packing,  skill  required  in,  i., 
210;   in  the  rain,  i.,  218 

Pack-rats,  i.,  82 

Peccary,  i.,  21;  where  found 
in  the  United  States,  ii., 
143;  unprovoked  attacks 
by,  ii.,  147;  a  band  of,  ii., 
153;  how  hunted,  ii.,  155; 
at  bay,  ii.,  155;  food  of,  ii., 

156 
Peculiarity    of    elk- trails,    i., 

224 
Perkins's  adventure  with    a 

bear,  ii.,  112 
Phillips,  William  H.,  ii.,  61 
Picturesque  country,  a,  i. , 2 1 5 
Pingree  killed  by  a  moose,  i., 

271 
Pitcher,  Lieutenant  John,  ii., 

247,  251 
Plains  country,  the,  i.,  2 
Plains,  the,  weather  of,  i.,  106 
Porcupine,  the,  i.,  203 
Prindle,  Old  Man,  ii.,  206;  his 

hounds,  ii,,  206 


Index 


293 


Prongbucks   in  rutting  sea- 
son, i.,  Ill 
Pronghorn,  see  Antelope 


Rabbits,  snow-shoe,  i.,  224 
Ranch-house,  the,  shut  up,  i. , 

60 
Ranch   Hfe    during   the   fall 

months,  i.,  24 
Riding,     cross-country,     ii., 

177;    of  cowboys,  ii.,  183- 

185;  of  Australians,  ii.,  183 
Rockhill,  Mr.,  ii.,  49 
Rogers,  Archibald,  iL,  95 
Rogers,  E.  P.,  i.,  260 
Roosevelt's,    Elliott,   buffalo 

hunt,  ii.,  3;  his  diary,  ii.,  5 
Roosevelt,  West,  i.,  42 
Roosevelt,  John,ii.,  3 
Round-up,  the,  starting  for, 

i.,  26;    at  work,  i.,  28,  51, 

118;   loss  of  sleep  at,  i.,  65 
Rutting    season,  the,  i.,  36, 

III 


Sage,  Mr.  A.  J.,  ii.,  184 
Sage-fowl,  i.,  132 
Settling  of  the  West,  i.,  14 
Shapes   taken   by   American 

wilderness,  i.,  1-3 
Sheep,  bighorn,  see  Bighorn 
Shooting,    poor,    i.,    42,    43; 
running   game,   i.,    50;     a 
caribou,  i.,  177;  hints  on, 
i.,  227 
Shoshone   Indians,   hunting- 
party    of,    i.,    230;     their 
method  of  hunting,  i.,  230 
Silver  thaw,  a,  i.,  183 
Sioux,  a  fight  with,  ii.,  242 
Slough,  stuck  in  a,  i.,  133 
Snow-shoes,   hunting  on,   i., 
266;  two  kinds  used,  i.,  268 
Soldiery  of  the  backwoods,  i., 
8 


Sounds,  in  the  wilderness,  i., 

80,81;  in  the  forest,  i.,  172 

Stalk,  an  early,  i.,  195 

Stalking,  antelope,  i.,  73-75; 

the  bighorn,  i.,  125-128;  a 

bull  elk,  i.,   226;    buffalo, 

ii-.  13 
Stampede  of  buffalo,  ii.,  14 
Start  for  a  hunt,  the,  i.,  48 
Striking      camp      in       bad 

weather,  i.,  236 
Stump,  Judge  Yancy,  ii.,  206; 

his  hounds,  ii.,  206 
Sword- Bearer,      the      Crow 

medicine  chief,  ii.,  247 


Tale   of  western  life,   a,   ii., 

229 
Tepee  or  wigwam  of  an  old 

hunter,  i.,  91;    a  tepee,  i., 

212 
Tompkins,  Old  Man,  i.,   56, 

198 
"Town,"  anew  Western,  ii., 

227 
Trackhounds,  i.,  47 
Trappers,  the  early,  i.,  12 
Travelling,  difficult,  i.,   133, 

134,  140,  158,  185 
Trout,  an  abundance  of,  i., 

207 
Two-Ocean  Pass,  i.,  220 


Unsportsmanlike    killing    of 

deer,  i.,  44 
Upper  Geyser  Basin,  i.,  236 


Valley,  a  lovely,  i.,  121 
Venison  of  elk  as  a  diet,  i., 

207 
Visitor  at  the  ranch,  a,  i.,  52 

Wadsworth,  Mr.  Austin,  ii., 
167 


294 


Index 


Walker,  General  W.  H.,  and 
the  buffaloes,  ii.,  19 

Wapiti  (bull) ,  fight  between 
two,  i.,  188;  habits  of,  i., 
191;   cowardice  of,  i.,  191 

Wapiti,  the,  i.,  4,  17;  pug- 
nacity of,  i.,  191;  ways 
of  fighting,  i.,  192;  the 
"whistling"  of  the,  i.,  194; 
gait  of,  i.,  197;  on  the 
Little  Missouri,  i.,  197; 
antlers  of  the,  i.,  201; 
noblest  of  his  kind,  i.,  239 

Washington  as  a  sportsman, 
ii.,  274 

Water-ousel,  i.,  160 

Water-shrew,  capture  of  a, 
i.,  161 

Water- wren,  the,  i.,  206 

Waters,  Wilbur,  ii.,  33 

Whisky-jack,  the,  i.,  206 

Whitney,  Caspar  W.,  ii.,  113 

Wildcat,  the,  often  hunted 
with  hounds,  i.,  202 

Wilderness,  the  American,  i., 
I 

Williams,  Colonel  Roger  D., 
ii.,  164,  217 


Willis,  John,  i.,  131,  155,  184 

Wolfers,  the,  ii.,  190 

Wolf,  the,  i. ,  20 ;  where  found 
in  United  States,  ii.,  188, 
191;  varieties  of,  ii.,  188; 
colors  of,  ii.,  189;  whole- 
sale killing  of,  ii.,  190; 
scarcity  of,  ii.,  190,  191; 
difficult  to  hunt,  ii.,  191; 
size  of,  ii.,  194;  attacks 
cattle,  ii.,  195;  cunning  of , 
ii.,  198;  food  of,  ii.,  199; 
rarely  attacks  man,  ii., 
201;  should  be  hunted 
with  dogs,  ii.,  202;  hunt- 
ing the,  ii.,  207;  killed  by 
hounds,  ii.,  214 

Wolverine  Pass,  i.,  231 

Wood  buffalo,  ii.,  22 

Woods  on  fire,  the,  i.,  157 

Woody,  Tazewell,  i.,  129, 
211,  216,  232;  ii.,  98, 
241 

Wranglers,  night-  and  day-, 
i.,  27,  68 


"Yard,"  a,  i.,  264 


H    22    88 


o 


*    ^^  ^^> 


-*Vv  -k.        <?       ^       -tt  -^  ^  V 

^^       /^  »•  A  K0  /k.  ^C^i      AT 


^    *  • "  **     A" 


5-°-^* 


0  ^0 


h  %<''  i^